Tag Archives: biofuel

Using the SURE to build a Photobioreactor [Awesome sounding Science]

21 Sep

This is the third post from student’s in Prof. Miller’s Scientific Reasoning and Discovery course last year.  This team, made up of Rio Hart, Bryan Kane, Joseph Sipos, Megan Kavaras, and Naazneen Essabhoy, was  responsible for finding the best way to grow as much algae as possible in the most efficient way, while trying to discover the feasibility of even larger scale growth.


Most undergraduate students aren’t given the opportunity to conduct research with a professor, let alone freshmen. However, through the UHP, with generous funding from the Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement (SURE) award, we have been able to not only research bio-fuels (more specifically, the usage of algae as a bio-fuel), but conduct actual experiments to determine the feasibility of large-scale algal growth.
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Turning Algae into Fuel with the UHP and SURE (Part II!)

14 Sep

Last week we told you a bit about how, students in Prof. Miller’s Scientific Reasoning and Discovery course won funds from the SURE Award do some amazing stuff.  Their class was divided into teams responsible for different parts of the process.  Here’s an account from the other team about how they used the funds to build a vital mechanism they dubbed the “Cracken.”

Vitalgae Team

The Cracken Makers: Ben Laman-Maharg, Preston Bell, Joe Setaro, Nick Gyongyosi, Paul Organ

Vitalgae’s Reforming and Refining team achieved great success with the help of the UHP/SURE award funding. In April, we used the bulk of our funding to construct two mechanisms necessary for advancing our research. One, a setup we dubbed the “Cracken”, was a system of stainless steel tubing that ran through a tube furnace. This allowed us to heat the material gathered by the other Vitalgae teams to extreme temperatures, “cracking” the hydrocarbons within and producing liquid that is useable as fuel.

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Turning Algae into Fuel with the UHP and the SURE Award

12 Sep

Last year, students in Prof. Miller’s Scientific Reasoning and Discovery course won funds from the SURE Award and used it to make some pretty amazing stuff.  Here’s an update about how that money helped them do the kind of hands-on research that to the average person looks almost like magic.   Keep reading for their account.

The Green Stuff!

Finally working with the green stuff!

Shortly after Spring Break 2011, the extraction team at Vitalgae successfully demonstrated the feasibility of supercritical carbon dioxide extraction using orange peels. That success, however, left the team with just enough of a taste for victory to sprint to the end of the school year with environmentally friendly fervor. Encouraged by the presence of the oily product from the orange, Team Extraction finally utilized the Botryococcus Braunii alage cultivated by their colleagues in the process they had used on the orange. Just as with the first few weeks attempts with the orange, though, progress proved to be frustratingly elusive.

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Algae Open House

26 Apr

Honors freshmen students enrolled in Prof. J. Houston Miller‘s Scientific Reasoning and Discovery course will present a showcase of their progress throughout the year.  We’ll see their research and examples of their experiments.

In this section of Scientific Reasoning and Discovery, students harvest biofuel from algae.  All of their scientific study is done in the context of creating a biofuel start up company, so the students learn how to solve real problems in the real world.  Several students have won funding for their class projects from the Sigelman Undergraduate Research Enhancement (SURE) award.  Last semester, the class and students were featured in the Planet Forward film festival.   It’s cool stuff!

Everyone is welcome (and encouraged) to come check it out!  Poke your head in to see their work.

The “algae open house” will be in the UHP Club Room at 714 21st St on Friday, April 29th from 3pm to 4:30pm.