Black Lives Matter - Action and Equality.

Three DIY Photobioreactor Designs for Algae Growing

Growing algae to replace fossil fuel oil was all the rage in 2009. Unfortunately, large scale production of algae can be a complicated process requiring careful nutrient monitoring to avoid crashing the reactor. However, growing algae on a small scale for DIY projects can be achieved using off the shelf controllers and sensors. We are going to briefly review three different DIY Photobioreactors in this post all of which have solved the basics around sensors, temperature control and lighting. Once a successful photobioreactor has been constructed the applications it can be applied to are numerous.

Here are some of the typical uses:

  1. growing chaetomorpha algae for aquarium nutrient management
  2. chlorella and spirulina for as nutritional supplements (high in protein and vitamins)
  3. exotic high value cultures like astaxanthin which is worth more by weight than gold and popular to color farmed Salmon pink. Also commonly used as an anti-inflammatory supplement for people with arthritis.
  4. bioremediation
  5. genetic engineering
  6. space research – absorb CO2 and be a food source


reef-pi is an aquarium controller that is arguably Adafruit’s most EPIC set of guides (7 parts total). This seven part guide has all the essentials for an advanced aquarium setup or algae photobioreactor. The project is controlled using multiple Raspberry Pi modules. The following can be automated using the reef-pi hardware:

  • pH
  • Temperature
  • Water level
  • Lights
  • Nutrient dosing


This open source bioreactor has been made available through Instructables and uses a Pi for the primary data collector, but relies on some Arduino components for the sensors and actuators. This is another very meticulously documented PBR.

Pressurized Algae Photobioreactor

This last DIY reactor takes a different approach using a bicycle pump to create a pressurized environment. The final assembly based on a 4.2 gallon plastic carboy is lightweight and somewhat portable. It looks pretty good, but does not compensate for temperature.

We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 20,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — How 3M is able to ramp up production of N95 masks

Wearables — Grocery store assist

Electronics — Electrolytic Limitations

Biohacking — Vitamin-C + Gelatin for Accelerated Recovery

Python for Microcontrollers — Discord 20k, Summer of Making, Python 3.9 and more! #Python #Adafruit #CircuitPython @circuitpython @micropython @ThePSF

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Cosmo Clock, Low Powered Widlife Camera, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — Arcade Mini Game in a Text Adventure

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.