Improving yields and decreasing costs of closed-system algae/spirulina production using lighting and sensor technology - BC-399

Preferred Disciplines: Engineering / Mechatronics (Masters, PhD or Post-Doc)
Project length: 4-12 months (1 or 2 units)
Approx. start date: January 2019
Location: Vancouver, BC
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: None
Company: Empowered Startups Ltd.

About Company:

Empowered Startups Ltd. is a business incubator in downtown Vancouver. We accelerate and incubate innovative international business ideas. We work with driven entrepreneurial leaders capable of building outstanding startups that enhance the prosperity of their chosen ecosystems. This research is in partnership with a startup developing algae growing systems for both Northern communities and ASEAN.

Summary of Project:

Current algae/spirulina growers that use closed systems (photobioreactors), that either use natural light, which limits growth, or broad spectrum LED lighting, which is not optimal for costs. Chemical engineers also need to be on-site to continually rebalance the medium that the spirulina is grown in.

This project aims to develop a proof-of-concept system that monitors and automates a closed growing system for algae/spirulina. The system maximizes growth and protein levels through optimizing: light, temperature, agitation, and growing medium. Real-time data is provided with a cloud solution so that producers no longer need experts in rebalancing the growing medium on-site and can monitor the spirulina growth remotely. 

Research Objectives/Sub-Objectives:

  • Build and experiment with sensor arrays to monitor, automate, and optimize temperature, agitation, and growing medium in a photobioreactor growing system
  • Build and experiment with sensor arrays to maximize algae growth while maintaining energy-efficiency of lighting
  • Build and test alogirthms used to maximize algae growth while maintaining energy-efficiency of lighting
  • Research how to enable remote monitoring of growing system


    • To be determined

    Expertise and Skills Needed:

    • Mechatronics Systems Egineering to build system
    • Consulary or support from chemical engineer

    For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

    1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
    2. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform