The Final Adjustments to our craft

These past two weeks we went out to VIMS to continue changing out the parts for screen system. It proved to be tedious since we had to drill through our aluminum framing pieces while floating on the water. Luckily we were precise enough for everything to fit fine, but it could have been an issue if our screws did not fit correctly. In addition to securing the screens with an aluminum piece on top of them, we also had to make sure the spacing was correct. For that we used drop in fasteners that screwed in small pieces of angle iron that kept the PVC canes 6 inches apart. On our second trip we also took out the screens, cleared most of the algae off and secured them on the platform of the craft. Tomorrow we should be able to help take the craft out onto the river and install the screens back into the water. Once we’re out onto the water we will have to contend with turbulence from the river, currents, and anything else Mother Nature throws at us.

Earlier on in the week we decided to make a PVC spacer that would sit in the water and go down about two thirds the length of the screens to make sure we achieved similar spacing that we had at the top of the screens. After trying to place it in we realized that it would not work at all since the PVC structure floated right up to the surface and started to float away from the craft. Once again, we had another piece that would need adjustments. One possible solution is drilling holes into the PVC so that they can fill with water and sink down.

Hopefully at the end of this week we will finally have our craft out on the water, fully secured and ready to start harvesting algae. Since this is our last week of research we are going to have to wait till the fall to start actually harvesting the algae and doing more experiments with harvesting schedules and different ways to make harvesting easier. The main idea we have for harvesting would be to use a frame on both sides of the screens that would clamp together and have two blades that would go back and forth cutting the algae. The algae would then be pumped out using a simple bilge pump. Earlier in the semester I was working on designing the blade using a design program that could be converted to a program that would allow us to print it out using a 3D printer. I ran into some issues designing the blade and had to focus more on making adjustments to the craft, but hopefully I can focus on that more and sometime in the fall we should have some possible designs and have something to actually test.