State Farm Insurance Agent, Mario Russo Grant: Alternative Energy with Algae Bio-reactors

  • School Year: 2019-2020
  • Applicants: Timothy Decker, Lead Teacher
  • School: Conard High School
  • Subjects: Math, Science, Technology

As America looks for greener alternative fuels to limit the impact of climate change and create a more energy independent economy, microscopic green algae hold great promise. Algae do not have the land requirements of other bio-fuels, like ethanol produced from corn or oil from palm trees. Algae do not also compete with food resources, forcing humans to chose between alternative energy or agricultural crops for human consumption. Algae are one of the planet's most oil rich species, and humans should be tapping into this resource as a potential solution to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, foreign oil and move into a more sustainable economy. Growing algae in bio-reactors offers the possibility of growing large quantities of algae in a very limited space. Many cities such as Hartford or West Hartford offer older abandoned industrial buildings. These locations offer an ideal starting point for the development of this technology due to the reduced land costs in these industrial zoned areas. Currently, industrial algae is being grown and harvested in ponds that are located in arid or tropical regions due to their favorable climates, vast open spaces and cheap land. The future of our economy is based on innovation and this project will introduce Conard High School students to the industrial applications of algae and show them how this technology can possibly be applied to the Northeastern United States where space is limited and the weather constantly changes. As students learn about this technology it will allow them to think critically, brainstorming innovative ways to reduce production costs while trying to maximize the growth rates of algae. This project may be just one small step in learning about the bio-fuels industry however, it could possibly lead to a new economic model within our local communities.

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