Algae Shade

Natalie Ferry and Stefano Pagani

The algae shade is a living window that supports sustainability through an integrated bioreactor. The complex heat sealed system enables maximum algae production which then gets used for biofuel.

We decided to continue working on the algae shade for open innovation with the hopes to improve upon the shade design and the integrated system. We found new methods to heat seal and have begun to discuss constant pressure systems versus modular systems.

During the first week, we started by growing a sample of algae. We talked to Tim about the best growing conditions and will be continuing to monitor the algae over the next weeks. We also looked a lot at the design of the shade and the flow patterns of the algae. We decided to move from linear pathways to hexagonal ones because we noticed that the algae were getting caught in the corners. Another benefit of using hexagonal patterns is that it forces the algae to move back and forth causing agitation which promotes growth. While discussing the shade with both Andrew and Louis, we talked about how the geometry of the shade could be used to enhance the design and aid the movements that we are looking for. We cut out sections and made various holds to explore what would work best. In the upcoming week, we will continue to explore the mechanism that moves the shade.

We have also have done a lot of work with heat sealing. Instead of using the impulse sealer which has a predetermined length and can only do linear seals we explored making our mount for the CNC mill. In our first iteration, we attached a steel roller ball to a soldering iron. This, however, had too high of a mass index and proved to be difficult to control the temperature. We then tested a rounded aluminum piece to see if the soldering iron could transfer heat in the way we wanted. This worked, but again we ran into problems when the piece dragged it would catch and tare the material. Our third iteration we used a much smaller aluminum rollerball, and it worked well. Stefano 3d printed a piece to hold the soldering iron in place, which fit in the dust shroud of the CNC mill. It is spring loaded to prevent stress on the piece, and after only a few attempts it was sealing better than we had expected. We are continuing to make improvements on all the design fronts as well as testing to find the best material and temperature combinations. We hope to have a fully functioning shade by the end and if time allows we will look more into the biofuel aspect.