P16488: Spirulina Production to Combat Malnutrition
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Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Final Demo and Handoff

The team worked very hard this phase to finish up the final Engineering Requirement testing as well as preparing for Imagine RIT. The model of the broom design was tested in the new tank design to show the decrease in time to agitate and this time was extrapolated to the amount of time it would take to mix a tank that was 18 m^2. The Bill of Materials was compared from old system to new system to prove that all of the materials could be purchased or found locally, and the cost of the media was calculated. With all of these factors we were able to calculate a total cost of the system. The team was also able to build the actual broom design to spec during this phase.

For Imagine RIT the team had numerous parts of the project laid out for people to look at while they listened to a member describe what we had done. The festival turned out to be very successful for the team as it gained more attention than anticipated and educated people on the benefits of Spirulina. For the festival the team had their poster, their side by side growing algae experiment running with the diffuser system, the new tank with the baffle system, the full scale broom, the broom iterations as well as some Spirulina candies for people to try. Due to the large number of people that wanted to taste the Spirulina, a member of the team had to leave to buy more.

Lastly, the team worked to finalize all the documents for building the broom, the tank and the media. The costing documents were also completed and the technical paper. These documents can be found below as can the final risk and problem tracking and the team’s thoughts on how to improve the project even further in the future.

Test Results Summary

As part of the final validation of the project the team completed multiple tests on the Engineering Requirements. The testing and the results can be seen below.
Final Engineering Requirements with pass/fail and final metrics

Final Engineering Requirements with pass/fail and final metrics

The final ER Testing and results can be found in one document. Calculations to show how the Labor and System costs were found can be seen in this excel link.

Media

The study was performed by comparing a control Spirulina culture of ARS media to an experimental culture containing 80%ARS20%CDAM. Thus, 20% of the volume and cost associated with ARS media would be replaced by the minimal cost of CDAM. The experimental and control cultures were grown in parallel in both 1.5L cultures in 2L photobioreactors and in 12.5L cultures in tubs in the RIT greenhouse. Each culture was inoculated with 10% preculture. Cultures were grown for 5 days during which daily OD560 measurements microscopic images were taken.
Growth Rate Comparison in photo-bioreactors between ARS and 80%ARS 20% CDAM via OD560 vs. Time

Growth Rate Comparison in photo-bioreactors between ARS and 80%ARS 20% CDAM via OD560 vs. Time

Growth rate comparison in greenhouse tanks between ARS and 80% ARS 20% CDAM via OD560 vs. Time

Growth rate comparison in greenhouse tanks between ARS and 80% ARS 20% CDAM via OD560 vs. Time

The figures above show that the growth rates of the ARS compared to the 80%ARS20%CDAM are almost equal in both the photobioreactor and greenhouse environments. Given only two replicates standard deviation and ANOVA analysis could not be performed. pH ranges fell within the acceptable range of 9-10.5 for the extent of the study. Cell morphology was comparable to that seen in previous batches of ARS characterized by a longer less compact spiral cell structure. Based on these results we conclude that the 80%ARS20%CDAM produces spirulina at a comparable rate and quality to the control media ARS. We believe that CDAM can be substituted into other Spirulina growth medias at 20% of the total media volume without compromising media spirulina growth efficiency. In countries where CDA is readily available as a waste product such as india, it is expected that the ash could be recycled to make CDAM with no cost. Based on these findings substituting CDAM at 20% would result in a 20% media cost reduction. This process does require an additional 2 hours per day of labor to produce the CDAM but this extra labor could possibly be distributed among existing workers without increasing labor costs. We recommend that spirulina farms use CDAM as 20% of their media volume to reduce media costs by up to 20%.

Agitation

Final ER test plans were performed to validate the time of mixing currently used in the agitation process versus the proposed broom design. Tests were performed in a scaled down tank (approximately 3/8 inch the size of the 3x6 meter tank). Four tests were performed for each system variation. A test using a 3/8 inch; inch rod was performed to mimic the current process. The average time for this test was 1 minute and 30 seconds. A raceway design insert was placed in the tank and tested with the broom design. The average time was around 30 seconds. A similitude calculation was performed using the velocity of the broom, dimensions of the tank, and the time required to mix the model tank. Video tracking software was used to capture the velocity of the broom for each test. The velocities were averaged to calculate the time required to mix the tank at the full scale (3x6 meters). The result, 30 -50 seconds of mixing is required per 20 minutes of mixing (a total of 3 minutes each hour).

ER Testing

Use instructions were written to explain how to use the new broom design with the proposed baffle system.

Broom Assembly

Broom Assembly

Broom Attachment

Broom Attachment

Blades for Agitation and Current Stick

Blades for Agitation and Current Stick

Risk and Problem Tracking

The Risk Management document will show that all of the risks have been “resolved” or “closed”. Risks that have been “Resolved” are those that the team has solved during MSD 1 & 2. Risks that have been labeled “Closed” are those that the team did not encounter during MSD 1 & 2. They have no necessarily been solved as they did not occur. All of the risks have been moved from the “open team, technical, and user” risks tab to the “prevented/completed” tab. Similar to the Risk Management document, all of the problems in the Problem Tracking document were moved to the “Solved” tab. The team was able to solve all of the problems that they had from the beginning of the phase by the end of MSD II.
Final problems that were closed out

Final problems that were closed out

Final Project Documentation

CAD Drawings

The final tank design include one straight baffle 3 meters in length and two semi-circular curved baffles with a radius of 1.5 meters. All tank CAD packages and drawings may be found in the Final Tank CAD folder.

Click Here for the straight baffle part file and Here for the drawing file. Click Here for the curved baffle part file and Here for the drawing file. Click Here for the drawing file that describes the placement of the baffle in the 3 x 6 meter tank. Click Final Here for the final tank assembly.

Final Baffle Design in a 3x6 meter tank

Final Baffle Design in a 3x6 meter tank

View the Baffle Calculations Spreadsheet to see further the design calculations of the baffle system.

BOM and Standard Work=

In order for farms in India to complete the new designs in media and agitation a Bill of Materials was created as well as multiple standard work instructions. Standard Work to build the broom were written, complete with pictures in order for the workers to understand the angles and measurements needed as well as the tools. Standard Work to build the tank design were written to explain how to mix the sand and cement to create the baffles within the tank to create the raceway pond design. Lastly, the instructions for how to make the cow dung ash media can be seen below
Cow Dung Ash Media Formulation

Cow Dung Ash Media Formulation

Technical Paper and Poster

Along with all of the above documentation, the team also created a Technical Paper. This paper is concise version of all of the information from our Edge web page. It includes the background and the methodology of the team’s design decisions, as well as the results from testing and the final conclusions. The team also had a very successful time showing the project at Imagine RIT this year. The exhibit showed the broom iterations, an example of the final tank design, the final broom, the actual media testing, and the Imagine Poster.
Final Poster

Final Poster

Recommendations for future work

The final designs we created, seem to help the system immensely in the labor required and reducing cost. However, there are still many areas of the current system that could be improved. We were unable to help create a less variable process, so there will still be some batches that produce more Spirulina than others. Also, dust and particles blowing in from the environment still seems to be an issue that can be looked into.

With more time and equipment, the team would have liked to test the nutrient levels in the Spirulina that was grown in the different medias. However, with time running out and the Spirulina proving to be tricky to grow without some contamination, the team was unable to perform these tests. Another limitation would be to find the actual cost of the media being used in India as well as the chemicals needed to create the other medias. It was difficult to prove that one media could be financially better than another without the correct costing information. Lastly, the diffuser systems that were originally created would have been the most helpful with reducing labor costs, however the team did not have enough time to find a way to produce the electricity it would need. In the future, the electricity needed to run the pumps could be created from a renewable source such as solar power or wind technology.

Suggestions Moving Forward

With a project scope as large as this, the team would recommend to future teams that they quickly try to narrow the scope to one area of the process. Much time was lost in the beginning of the semester when the team was trying to find a way to improve all areas of the process. After a few weeks it became clear that only one or two areas should be the focus of the project for the amount of time allotted in senior design.

The team did not have one long standing customer from the beginning to the end of the project which cause some discrepancies along the way. It would be suggested to find one customer who can commit to the project and having constant contact for the entirety of the project. Another challenge that the team faced was having to change the design of the agitation system after learning that the farm did not have a source of electricity. After determining the the cost of the system would be too much if a solar panel or wind turbine was added, the team had to do a redesign to something more manual. This set the team back by many weeks and caused them to rush more near the end of the semester to finish all of the testing. In hindsight it may have been helpful to be more thorough in the beginning of the of the design phase.

Gate Review Notes

Design Review Materials


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