Documents an experimental build of a system designed to produce fuel oil from algae.  I think that the exponential growth pattern of algae is very interesting, and may play a critical role in the future.  This instructable is meant to demonstrate that the technology needed to produce fuel and biomass from algae is simple and accessible.  If you look at the academic research, it appears that growing algae is a difficult, scientific task that has to be done in labs by PhD candidates.  Anyone with a pool (or who has ever seen a swamp) knows that it is very easy to produce large quantities of algae.  The key is to extract useful materials without having to input a lot of energy.  It is basically a matter plumbing.

The system here is very small and reliant on an input of electricity.  To be useful this system must be many times larger, and be powered by natural sources.  You can get much more information from the sources listed below.

I published this as a private instructable in 2011, It is based on the work of Rudy Behrens of BEAR Oceanic.   Since then all the information I used (and much more) has been posted on his company webpage, so I'm comfortable sharing this.

 You can learn much more here: http://www.beargroup.us/bear_oceanics --

There are detailed plans on this page http://www.beargroup.us/the_america2wo_project

I first learned about the project on kickstarter:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1579413688/biofuel-for-everyone

What follows is my original instructable which I am now making public.

Test system built by Marc Cryan - 8/20011

Here is my first try system - my goal was to get some evidence of oil production and build a core system that could be expanded, if successful.  Also - focus on using readily available parts (Home Depot) which allows easy reproduction.

  • Assemble nozzle
  • Attach motor to pump
  • Attach pipes and tubes to pump
  • Attach nozzle to pump
  • Collect algae
  • Grow more algae using micro-bubbler
  • Process algae by running through the pump and nozzle
  • Look for signs of oil

KenR36 months ago

Did you ever do anything else with this project?

What happened after you let the 'skimmed oil' set overnight?

The SYNer1 year ago

Where in those plans does it talk about making oil? Those are plans for a biomethane generator/closed environment. Also you can't make oil by simply passing water and plant mash through a nozzle(no matter how cool/alien the nozzle looks). Oil is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons. I believe what you have there is vegetable oil. Algae is a great source of vegetable oil and after proper processing(NExBTL or Thermal depolymerization) can be converted to hydrocarbons. This setup is nothing but a glorified algae bioreactor. But if you take your bioreactor and combine it with an oil press(to produce vegetable oil), the resulting vegetable oil can be used in diesel engines.

marc.cryan (author)  The SYNer1 year ago

The idea is to use the nozzle to create cavitation to do a tiny amount of depolymerization. It is hard for me to tell if this is actually happening. The process does do a good job of pulverizing the algae, and the algal oil eventually separates. I agree that just trying to separate the vegetable oil from the algae is a better plan.

yoda3331 year ago
Great project!
rimar20001 year ago

Congratulations, you got a spectacular result. Keep searching!

marc.cryan (author) 3 years ago
Garden hose keeps collapsing - needs rigid suction hose