Standalone Solar Powered Algae Cultivation




About: Watch and start doing.

This instructable will cover the full compilation of my journey upon completing my prototype DIY Standalone Solar Powered Algae Cultivation made from a recycled 55 gallon pvc drum. I will also show how i integrated a solar power system to create a sustainable and energy efficient machine. The solar energy generated will then be converted to mechanical energy which enables the wastewater to circulate and be consumed faster by the algae for its growth and development.After the algae had been fully matured we can now then start to extract the biofuel or harvest a spirulina, but in this specific instructable I will only be showing you how to build an algae cultivation.The algae cultivation can be used for research and experiments to different species of algae. The Goal of this DIY project is to produce a clean and green energy for everyone, to lessen carbon footprint and to treat human, animal and industrial waste.

Step 1: Why I Started Building My Own Algae Cultivation?

I built this algae cultivation in the purpose of extracting valuable nutrients from the waste water of my recent DIY project which is a biogas digester. The waste water has many benefits and advantages to the growth and development of the algae, it can sustain the needs of the algae. Knowing this i realized, why not build my own algae farm? and try to know more about alga's potential to our ever changing world. Also "We are in a state of climate change, food and energy crisis" dependence to fossil fuel, mass produced/ synthetic foods, and consumption of non-renewable energy is destroying our environment and also the future generations. We need to create something that is renewable, clean and efficient that can sustain or even substitute our dependence from the traditional.Algae (spirulina) is known to contain high amount of proteins and essential fatty acids which is highly beneficial to our well being and is known to have the largest amount of oil yields per acre with that from other oil-seeds. Therefore it can produce a large and independent supply of bio-fuel. it is the solution to the so called "energy crisis and global warming" it will be the future of energy resource that will move us towards a cleaner, greener and perhaps better future. Together in our own little ways let us make this a fact and make yesterday a history.

Step 2: Things You'll Need :

For the main structure :

55 gallon pvc drum

Support system (Recycled Metal Frame)

10 x BOLT 1/4 UNF X 1.3/8 INCH

Stainless steel flat bar

2 x Acrylic Sheet 40 x 26cm

The wheel paddle:
Stainless steel bar

8 - Stainless steel plate

2 - Pillow block

4 x BOLT 1/4

The power and control system:

20 watts solar panel

Solar controller 5a

12v lead acid battery

12v dc motor 1.8a (from used car aircon motor)

Arduino Uno Rev3

Dfrobot 2a motor shield

Bicycle Chain Ring

Bicycle Sprocket

Bicycle Chain

Tools and Machines

Sheet Metal Pruner Cutting Tool

Acetylene Torch

Power Drill

2 x Vice-Grip C-Clamp

Bench vice-grip


Welding Machine

Step 3: Cutting the PVC Drum

This particular step is cutting to half the recycled 55 gallon drum i had already dedicated an instructable for this particular step so just click the link below.

Step 4: Drilling Hole to the PVC Drum

We need to drill holes at the edges of the PVC Drum for it will serve as a locking mechanism to the main frame and so that it will be sturdy enough to hold the volume of the water.

  • To drill a hole we will be using a power drill.
  • Start drilling hole at the center of the drum while the vice grip c-clamp are attached at both ends.
  • The total holes that i drilled at the center was four.

Step 5: Inserting the Flat Bar to the Pvc Drum

The purpose of the flat bar is to hold together and lock in tightly to the main frame the divided PVC drum. Also to support the volume of the water without it collapsing and lessening its vibration.

  • Spot welding is more ideal than using a vice grip to hold the two flat bars when drilling.
  • I used a bench drill to drill holes to the stainless steel flat bars.
  • There was a total of four holes to the flat bar.
  • After drilling i used a grinder to polish the flat bar.

Step 6: Reconstruction of the Support Frame

The main frame that i used was a spare i found at our garage. It was very ideal and perfect to support the PVC drum. I also used old boiler tubes to re-fabricate the frame due to its availability. I made four right angle out of the old boiler tubes. When cutting the tubes i used an acetylene torch, then grind off the rough edges and then welded it together.

Step 7: Making the Wheel Paddle

The wheel paddle that i used is from a spare of stainless steel sheets. There are many alternatives that can be use, but i prefer the stainless steel sheet because it is strong, malleable, and rust resistant.

  • I cut eight pieces of the sheets using a Sheet Metal Pruner Cutting Tool.
  • To fold the sheet i inserted it to the bench vise approximately 5 mm inside the grip.
  • Slowly hammered it down until it is in the desired shape.
  • Repeat the process at the other sides.
  • I marked out a x shape to the plate to strengthen and reinforced it.
  • After marking i polished the corners of the plate to get rid from its sharp edges.
  • Then i welded the four plates to a tube forming the wheel paddle.
  • The wheel paddle has a locking mechanism to the stainless steel rod,by drilling and welding a bolt to the tube.

Step 8: Adding a Partition to the PVC Drum.

The partition of the PVC drum is very essential to its design, It allows the liquid to circulate in a laminar manner.

  • The two 40 x 26 cm Acrylic Sheet will be glued to the center of PVC using a silicone sealant.
  • I reinforced the acrylic sheet by attaching a stainless steel tig welding rod to it. The rod is malleable enough to be shaped and strong enough to support the sheet.
  • The rod is interlocked with the bolt of the flat bars (the sides of the PVC drum).

Step 9: Driving the Wheel Paddle

The 12v dc motor is controlled by the arduino uno thru the dfrobot 2a motor shield. It is powered by the solar controller and charged by the solar panel. With my basic knowledge about arduino i am able to manipulate the speed of the motor and also set a timer.

MAKE ENERGY: A US-Mexico Innovation Challenge

Third Prize in the
MAKE ENERGY: A US-Mexico Innovation Challenge

Explore Science Contest

Participated in the
Explore Science Contest

Apocalypse Preparedness Contest

Participated in the
Apocalypse Preparedness Contest

2 People Made This Project!


  • Frozen Treats Challenge

    Frozen Treats Challenge
  • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    Colors of the Rainbow Contest
  • Sensors Contest

    Sensors Contest

18 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

i've read that biofuel from algae is much more promising than methods currently being shoved down the public's throat. also, an advantage is, every state could have one or more algae plants instead of oil only being refined at one of just a few spots on the coastal USA and then pay to ship it over land.

1 reply

1 year ago

Try to protect them from outside elements as best as possible and absorb without Pumps CO2.


1 year ago

Interesting you could place a dome on them up partly so that they still get air and try to scale them up. This way you could potentially absorb lots of Carbon dioxide from the air.


4 years ago on Introduction

I would like to comment on "bgoldberg1"s comment about wild onions. Wild foods & wild herbs are actually more nutritious than the ones you grow in your garden. They have more omega-3s, vit's & min's. Most "weeds" are medicinal, as well as edible. Just be sure you know what you're picking when you go wildcrafting & don't get something poisonous.


4 years ago on Introduction

Having a swimming pool in Florida, I spend money on KILLING algae. I have no clue how to collect it, or what to do with it if I could.... I don't grok this.

2 replies

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

Some (but not all) types of algae have enough oil in them, that it's worthwhile to harvest the algae, extract the oil, and use that oil for fuel.

The difference between the algae being deliberately grown and the algae in your swimming pool is similar to the difference between onions you are growing in your garden to eat, and onions growing wild in your lawn. One's a crop, the other's a weed, even though they might possibly be the same species.


4 years ago on Introduction

Another direction to take this is to harvest phosphorus from water that has too much of it. Algae will bloom like crazy; collect the algae and compress and dry it; run it through a biochar stove; and use the char as a soil additive. No more buying fertilizer--just pure nutrient cycling.


4 years ago on Introduction

Very good proyect and cool song for your video!

What tipe of spirulina do you use? platensis or máxima?


4 years ago on Introduction

what happened to steps 8,9 and 10 ? I could not see anything and read through the concluding parts

1 reply