Algae Town Explores the Future of Biofuel, Turning to Crowd Funding for Support
Stan Grove, professor emeritus of biology at Goshen College, and Dave Slagel, CEO of Formco Inc. in Elkhart, Indiana, initiated the Algae Town project four years ago. Their research was focused on developing a practical and efficient way to grow algae, a renewable resource that may one day be used to produce biofuels, pharmaceuticals and animal feed. Last month five students in the Business Capstone class — Fasica Bayou, Moti Endalew, Niles Graber Miller, Khavoir Graham and Michael Holland – were invited to help the project’s founders and a group of students from the biology department develop the product and identify new sources of funding to support their research.
What is Algae Town?
Algae town’s prototype, a set of three gigantic green tanks, is located on the second floor of the Goshen College Science Hall. Each of the photobioreactors features large florescent lights strapped to the outside of the tank to accelerate photosynthesis and are filled with 185 gallons of algae-rich water. There are between 300,000 and 1 million different species of algae worldwide and the team has identified a particular strain to test its commercial viability.
A few challenges along the way
Some of the challenges the Biology Department team is facing are technical: finding a way to harvest the algae that collects in the tanks each day. Other challenges are financial; they have relied on volunteer labor and donated materials up to now and have just begun seeking funding to support their research.
Developing a plan
The business department students are developing a plan to reach out to the local community through events and social media. Ideas include Algae Town events at the Goshen Farmer’s Market, open houses to view the production process and even an “algae drink” at Java Junction. The students are also leveraging the power of social media and putting together a new website to promote awareness of the project and solicit outside investments.
Learn more about Algae Town