We've got an oldie-but-goodie today: it's an upcycled photobioreactor for cultivating algae, which (ideally) could be exchanged for biofuel credits. But that's only half of the story: "Bio-Grow" took second place in the International E-Waste Design Competition 2010, incorporating refurbished waste materials—namely a laptop, an iMac and a tower enclosure—into the unassuming, bathroom sink-sized unit. Thus, Mark Schnitzer and his teammates Timothy Harvey, Elliot DeVries, Reza Shiftehfar and Meg Kenney designed "Bio-Grow" to hit the sweet spot between forward-looking sustainability and repurposing e-waste materials.
Rising oil prices and overflowing dumps are ongoing problems... Can we solve for a 'green' issue while utilizing recycled electronic materials? For the 2010 International E-Waste Design Competition, my team has designed a photobioreactor for the cultivation of algae, to be later manufactured into biodiesel. Utilizing salvaged and refurbished electronic waste, my team has reinvented the components user experience. The Bio-Grow exists as both a local and global system. With the combination of these two systems, the Bio-Grow is envisioned to help solve the problems of both e-waste and oil consumption. Ultimately, algae-based biofuels will completely replace fossil fuels.
As for what's under the hood, so to speak: a Dell Latitude CPX notebook serves as the control panel, displaying the vital statistics of the ecosystem. The Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) of a discarded iMac, concealed within the base, has been adapted as a lighting and heating unit, which can be adjusted to the ideal wavelength for growing algae. Lastly, a G4 tower has been repurposed as the clear tank itself, its iconic form factor suggested only by the protruding corners of the box.
In other words, it's essentially the opposite of burning the candle at both ends: by adapting detrimental electronic waste into a source of green energy, "Bio-Grow" is a sort of ultimate win-win.
Thanks to Mark for bringing his project to our attention—the Chicago-based industrial designer is fresh off an internship at LPK International, Inc. and he's looking for his next gig.