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Algae Photobioreactor


4-2-10 ArkFab meets George aka TaoPunk. George offers sponsorship.
3-28-10 ArkFab travels to Analodge Hackspace in NC to recruit Michael Clemmons and Charlie Soeder
3-23-10 ArkFab Collective retreat at TerraPerma
2-15-10 quest for an ATL DIYbio lab begins
2-15-10 Blacki Migliozzi, cultura libre complexity mathematician, and Corwin May, another mathematician and ontologist, have joined the project.
2-14-10 The OpenPario project management tool is online at OpenPario: Algae Photobioreactor. Register a new account to add questions, ideas or tackle an open task!


Design, build, and operate an open source algae photobioreactor to produce, market and sell bulk food-grade Haematococcus pluvialis with a high biomass content of the medically significant carotenoid, astaxanthin.

Project Philosophy

This project is part of the international open source ecology movement to develop and diffuse disruptive technologies that can redefine both the social and ecological relations of production in our global economy. Inspired by successful organizations such as the New Alchemy Institute, Factor E Farm and ShipYard Labs this biotechnology project intends to function as the seed enterprise for funding an integrated peer to peer socio-ecology research institute and business incubator in Atlanta to aid the transition towards a socially and ecologically just world. All proceeds from the sale of Haematococcus pluvialis will go towards establishing the not for profit institute.

Our strain selection criteria is primarily based on the high-value of the dried and cracked algae Haematococcus pluvialus which can be sold for ~7,000 dollars a kilogram retail. However, this strain is particularly difficult to grow because of the need to control environmental parameters and the dual-stage growth process necessary to induce astaxanthin production within the algae. These added difficulties are the second criteria of our selection. Due to this strains' difficult requirements the algae photobioreactor we engineer will be suitable for many other strain requirements and provide the opportunity for further research into algae-based products such as carbon sequestration and soil amendments.


A small-scale proof of concept prototype will be crowdfunded by local and international stakeholders with an interest in
  • our product
  • the establishment of the institute and
  • economic development, social justice and urban sustainability in Atlanta.
Funding for a full-scale facility will be bootstrapped from the sale of our product while we solicit donations to the institutes Open Development Fund endowment. The Institutes Open Development Fund, in turn, will provide the angel investment necessary to start-up the full-scale production facility. Further information about where to donate will be provided after initial prototype designs and budgets are published.

Open Source Development Pipeline

This pipeline is taken in part from the successful Factor E Farm product development model.

The project will occur over three phases. Phase I, recruitment and community small-scale proof of concept prototyping; phase II, full-scale business development and deployment; and phase III, full-scale operations and community educational programming.

More details are available on the OpenPario Algae Photobioreactor Roadmap

Phase I: Collaborative Prototyping


  1. Recruit a core development team
    1. Current: Liam Rattray, Catherine Armbruster, Ryan Gregory
  2. Identify and recruit local and online community support and expertise
    1. Biological Innovation for Open Society (BiOS) Initiative, Freeside Atlanta, Factor E Farm, The Algae Lab, p2p Foundation, openWetWare, DIYBio
  3. Establish a DIYbio Lab in Atlanta
  4. Continue building a support base by submitting press releases to news outlets, presenting lectures, hosting benefit parties and engaging with influential individuals and organizations.


Our design philosophy incorporates permaculture, biomimicry and open source design methodologies.

  1. Define specifications, pursuant to Open Source Ecology Systems Specifications
  2. Develop design rationale
  3. Conduct life-cycle analysis
  4. Conduct cost structure analysis
    1. Stock material costs
    2. Specialised parts and non-substitutable parts costs
    3. Overall prototype costs
    4. Estimate full-scale facility costs
  5. Publish designs online with technical drawings, calculations, scripts and 3d renderings


The above information is submitted to the open source biosciences community for review and comments. This must allow for complete documentation of the fabrication process.

  • Verify specifications
  • Verify cost structure
  • Verify design


Submit to support base for crowd funding. Other string-free funding channels may be used.


Once materials are procured the algae photobioreactor will be fabricated in-house using flexible digital fabrication techniques.

Phase II: Full-Scale Business Development

Market Analysis

Business and Financing Plan

  • Assessment of the current regulatory environment
  • Projection of future regulatory environment

Operations and Deployment


Phase III: Full-Scale Operations and Institute Development

Community Educational Programming

Vocational Training

k-12 Education

Open Development Fund Endowment