Lilly-bot is an automated device to cultivate edible micro-algae like Spirulina in a domestic environment. Having a personal micro-algae farm is an environmentally friendly way to produce and consume a complete nutritional source that grows at the highest rates through photosynthesis, fixing CO2 and producing O2.
It’s composed by a clear acrylic tank and frame, a submersible water pump, a clear piping system, a clear growing chamber (that can consist in a plastic bag or in recycled plastic bottles), and a removable aluminized Mylar foil.
The Spirulina grows in a specific water medium composed by non-chlorinated water along with other nutrients (Sodium Bicarbonate, Ammonium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Potassium Nitrate). The micro-algae solution is pumped into the piping system from the tank at the bottom of the acrylic frame. The acrylic frame has multiple holes to create a variety of attachments possibilities allowing to fix different types of growing chambers. The Spirulina solution flows down from the piping system into the growing chamber using gravity. The chamber is shaped with a variable water hour-glass geometry that creates turbulence in the solution and sucks little bubbles of air while the solution flows down to the tank. The wrinkled alimunized Mylar foil on the back provides retro-lightning when the Lilly-bot is placed along opaque surfaces like a wall. It can be removed for installation along transparent surfaces like windows.
When the Spirulina solution is dense enouh, it can be harvested through the piping system directly into a jar and then can be dried while the growing medium is being enriched with new nutrients.
It’s a project developed by Cesare Griffa at the MIT SENSEable City Lab in Cambridge (MA) with the support of the Fulbright Commission and implemented with the support of Fablab Torino (IT).
Many thanks to Carlo Ratti, Director of the SENSEable City lab.
Contributors: Antonio Ravarino, Federico Rizzo, Gianni Bruera, and Matteo Amela.