Leading the way to a greener future!
 

 

          With naturally bright green Algatiles on rooftops around the world, we imagine a simple, aesthetically appealing and impactful solution to climate change. Our Algatiles are photobioreactor roof tiles for homes. Algatiles utilize freshwater algae called Parachlorella kessleri to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis. Just one Algatile will be capable of absorbing nearly 32 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

 

          Utilizing the strength of galvanized steel, and the transparency of polycarbonate material, Algatiles provide a structurally sound roofing alternative that protects a home from the elements while allowing algae to photosynthesize. Small holes in the polycarbonate layer allow for fresh water intake and gas exchange. A galvanized steel base and locking system is used to attach the tiles to the roof and provides further protection for the home.  

The Problem

          Climate change is a global or regional change in atmospheric patterns due to the increasing emission of anthropocentric greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide building up in the atmosphere. These gasses are acting like a blanket trapping incoming radiation from the sun that would otherwise be reflected out into space. The more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that are added to the atmosphere, the thicker the blanket becomes and as a result the Earth's average temperature rises.  Due to climate change, glaciers are shrinking, sea levels are rising, and animal ecosystems are being affected negatively.

Scientists around the world agree that the temperature is rising.

 
 

This is a roof with Algatiles! Bright green, and  attractive, they are constantly helping the environment by absorbing atmoshperic carbon dioxide.

This is a roof with normal roof tiles. Dull, gray and ordinary, they are not helping the environment in any way.

Our Vision

Algatiles Video

Leading the way to a greener future!

 

Function

As a photobioreactor, an Algatile will function to capture and therefore reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, through the natural process of photosynthesis. The algae utilize sunlight and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. The carbon dioxide reacts with water in the Algatile to form glucose which the algae then uses to grow its cellular structures and reproduce. This captured carbon dioxide becomes part of the algae and is never returned to the atmosphere. Oxygen is a by-product of the reaction and can be usefully released to the atmosphere.

Before the algae die, they will reproduce asexually or sexually, essentially creating an algae life cycle in each Algatile we manufacture.

This is a drawing showing how the algae will photosynthesize. Carbon dioxide is used to produce glucose, and oxygen is released as a by-product of the glucose.

 

The Algae

This is a drawing of an Algatile with its dimensions and materials labeled.

View of young microscopic Chlorella taken in our science classroom. (x400 magnification)

Culturing our Chlorella samples of algae

Surface Holes

360 degree model of an

Algatile

GIF showing how we had ran our investigation on our 2nd prototype

Algae Check Ups

This is a GIF showing how the Algatiles will be attached to the AlgaBase.

This is a diagram showing how the algae and nutrients will be injected into the Algatiles.

Features 

The Algatile technology has many features that are important in understanding how it works.

Shape and Dimensions

Prototype Designs

The first design of the Algatile was made from transparent film used in  overhead projectors. We used an origami technique to fold the Algatile, and clear tape to seal off the Algatile.

This 3-D printed prototype was used for the test investigation on the hole size. We learned from building this prototype that the holes need to be moved higher up on the tile so the algae doesn't leak out of the Algatile.

This is a true to size model of an actual Algatile. We used cardboard as the steel base and transparency film as the polycarbonate. Cut up green felt represents the algae. We drew five, seven millimeter wide holes to indicate where the water intakes, and the gases exchanges.

Designed using TinkerCad, our most recent Algatile prototype is a scaled down (1/3)  3-D printed model that includes the AlgaBase. This model allowed us to visualize the attachment of the Algatile to the roof and to develop the steel rail locking system.

 
 

          We presented our project to fellow classmates at our school, and they had many questions. These are some of the most "Frequently Asked Questions".

 

Team Experts

Picture of galvanized steel

Picture of polycarbonate material

AlgaFlat

 
 

References

“Carbon Dioxide Concentration | NASA Global Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 17 May 2017, climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/.

“Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).” International Management Research Academy (IMRA), www.imraweb.org/faqs/.

“Roofing Calculator - Determine How Much Roofing Material You Need.” Home Improvement Tips & Advice from HomeAdvisor, 13 Oct. 2016, www.homeadvisor.com/r/roofing-calculator/.

Gillespie, Evan. “What Is the Standard Roof Pitch?” Hunker, 9 Oct. 2011, www.hunker.com/13401081/what-is-the-standard-roof-pitch.

“A Brief History of Climate Change.” BBC News, BBC, 20 Sept. 2013, www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-15874560.  

 

“History | NASA Science – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.” NASA, NASA, 24 Feb. 2017, climate.nasa.gov/nasa_science/history/. 

 

Revkin, Andrew. “Climate Change First Became News 30 Years Ago. Why Haven't We Fixed It?” National Geographic, National Geographic, 21 June 2018, www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/07/embark-essay-climate-change-pollution-revkin/

 

“United States Department of Agriculture.” USDA - National Agricultural Statistics Service Homepage, www.nass.usda.gov/Charts_and_Maps/Cattle/index.php.

 

Pearson, Charles. “What Are Smoke Stacks?” Sciencing, 2 Mar. 2019, sciencing.com/info-8068108-smoke-stacks.html. 

Hoium, Travis. “Why Solar Panel Efficiency Matters More Than You Think.” The Motley Fool, The Motley Fool, 31 Jan. 2015, www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/01/31/why-solar-panel-efficiency-matters-more-than-you-t.aspx.

AlexMaster. “Polluting Factory at Dawn, Time-Lapse, Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty-Free) 6090389.” Shutterstock, www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-6090389-polluting-factory-dawn-time-lapse-moving-smoke-industrial.

“Each Country's Share of CO2 Emissions.” Union of Concerned Scientists,   

www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/science-and-impacts/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2.html#.XDdSHWhKiL  

 
“Clean Air Act Requirements and History.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 10 Jan. 2017, www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/clean-air-act-requirements-and-history 

 

Freedman, Andrew. “The Last Time CO2 Was This High, Humans Didn't Exist.” Climate Central, 3 May 2013, www.climatecentral.org/news/the-last-time-co2-was-this-high-humans-didnt-exist-15938

 

“What Are ‘Proxy’ Data?” National Climatic Data Center, www.ncdc.noaa.gov/news/what-are-proxy-data.  

Oneal, E. (2019, January 28). Email interview. 

Oneal, E. (2019 March 24). Email interview.

“Triangles Are the Strongest Shape” Triangles Are the Strongest Shape | Thinking about Geometry | Underground Mathematics, undergroundmathematics.org/thinking-about-geometry/triangles-are-the-strongest-shape.

 

Ramos, Nicholas. “Triangles Used in Architecture.” Sciencing, 2 Mar. 2019, sciencing.com/triangles-used-in-architecture-12084289.html.

 

Fuchs, John. “The Strength and Mystery of Triangles.” CTG Technical Blog, 30 Nov. 2017, techblog.ctgclean.com/2012/10/the-strength-and-mystery-of-triangles/.

“Overview of Greenhouse Gases.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/

 

“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov/

Thank You to...

Our amazing science teacher and coach for taking time out of her personal life to give us advice and feedback.

 

Our wonderful language arts teachers for giving us grammatical advice and design advice.

 

Our out of this world technology teacher and assistant technology teacher for writing two grants for the 3-D printer and transparent filament. She has made our prototype design possible.

 

Our wonderful administrators and teachers for supporting the competition and giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

The NSTA and Toshiba for creating ExploraVision. Without this competition, we wouldn't have realized how fun and exciting competing in STEM can be.

 

Most importantly, thank you to our parents for allowing us to work before and after school throughout this competition, supporting us, and encouraging us to do the best work we can.

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