Home Biofuels Concept Project Turns E-Waste to Algae

In the future, you may be able to grow your own biofuels at home, using nothing more than e-waste. It may sound a little far-fetched, but a team of undergrads from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently designed an ‘algae bioreactor’ called the Bio-Grow–a device which can cultivate high outputs of algae intended for biofuel production–from old computer parts, which they envision as part of a distributed generation future for biofuels.

To make your own Bio-Grow, you’ll need side panels from an Apple G4 CPU tower for the incubating tank, PVC pipes for structural reinforcement and high density foam for insulation and stability, as well as an old Apple iMac CRT to provide the light necessary for photosynthesis. TreeHugger reports that a modified Dell Latitude CPX laptop will control and adjust the temperature for your little green fuel-source, as well as the required light spectrums generated by the iMac CRT. Throw in a water pump to aerate the algae and a faucet that will allow you to harvest your crop at any time, and there you have it: biofuels on tap at home.

Bio_Grow

image via Treehugger

Of course, we’re still along way from the time when we’ll all be able to cart our bucket of algae down to the gas station and receive a discount on the stuff we put in the tank–and the Bio-Grow is at present is still a conceptual prototype. Still, thinking like this holds promise, as the team estimates that the algae produced from Bio-Grow devices installed in only 6.5 percent of American homes would be sufficient enough to replace petroleum in this country with algae biodiesel.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.