more algae

I have been able to identify the two major genera of algae that largely dominate the samples collected from this location on the York River.  I have also been exploring methods of cleaning these samples using both heated and room temperature 30% hydrogen peroxide. The samples have been both dried and continually suspended samples with better results coming from the previously suspended samples.  Under a simple compound light microscope, the algae appeared to have most if not all organic matter cleaned from their frustules when using the suspended samples.  However, part of my goal of the project is to establish a temperature at which the cleaning is optimized, meaning that most if not all of the surrounding organic matter is gone with the frustules staying intact.  I am stuck in this respect as we have ordered a digital thermometer that is on back order at the moment.  I have also learned the basics of using a calorimeter and spiking samples of algae and hydrozoa to derive the amount of available energy they contain.  The goal at the moment is to fully assemble the portion of our craft on which the algae is to grow and be collected from.  Going forward, I need to prepare and test samples using the calorimeter, develop a protocol with more parameters for cleaning the frustules, maintain the craft to make sure algae is growing optimally, and image samples of algae using the SEM microscopes and HIROX microscope at the Applied Research Center.

How exactly are we going to collect algae?

I did not know what to expect when I began my summer research here at W&M. I understood the overall goals and had a very slight idea of how we were exactly going to accomplish our goals, but now I realize there are a lot more moving parts than I first expected. A major part of my research so far has been trying to take certain designs and translate them into parts for our craft. The main part of the craft that I have been concerned with creating has been the screens where the algae will grow on. The screens will go on the inside of the craft and run parallel to the length of the craft. They are broken into two sections that are about 18 feet long. The screens are wrapped around and clamped onto PVC “canes”. The canes were bent so that they could hang onto the edges of the craft. To make harvesting easier I also worked to design and create a pulley system that would simplify raising the canes out of the water to collect the algae. To design the pulley system we mounted the aluminum framing (which holds the pulleys) onto poles, which attach directly to the craft.

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