Collaborative Project Tests Photobioreactor

Collaborative Project Tests Photobioreactor

David Graber and David Stoesz assemble the photobioreactor.

Biology and Environmental Science students David Stoesz, David Graber, Menan Assefa, and Aradhana Roberts are helping test a new way to “grow” energy.  Working with Stan Grove and Ryan Sensenig of the Biological Sciences Department, the students are testing a Photobioreactor built by Dave Slagel of Formco Inc.

Dave Slagel, owner and CEO of Formco Inc. of Elkhart, and his staff have constructed a first model photobioreactor that seeks to increase the energy efficiency of producing algal biomass in comparison to currently available photobioreactors. It is anticipated that this equipment will be able to efficiently produce algal biomass for extraction of oils for biofuel production or other desirable products.

This collaborative project is actively seeking outside funding to support a more intensive testing effort.  For more information or to volunteer as an assistant please contact Stan Grove ( or Ryan Sensenig (, 535-7489).

The microscopic alga growing here forms clumps that may be visible in the tank. Individual spherical cells are 10 to 30 μM in diameter.
The Formco Photobioreactor with 700 liters of green algal culture.
View from above the culture showing the piston in the up position.
View from the side of the culture.
Tour on alumni weekend, October 8, 2011. The internal piston is rising with the trapped air chamber partially filled.