Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

  • February 23, 2015 | 06:14 p.m.

    Hello Efran and Team, I am curious to know, which companies have embarked on solutions similar to your proposed (awesome) machine? Also, what would be the effect of adding iron? Isn’t iron abundant in the oceans?

  • Icon for: Ricky C

    Ricky C

    Co-Presenter
    February 26, 2015 | 07:55 a.m.

    Hey Susan,
    While iron is abundant in the oceans in general, it is not evenly distributed. There are many iron deficient areas in the oceans. These areas are limited in their supply of iron, a key nutrient in the growth of algae, which in turn reduces the viable amount of algae in the area. By introducing iron in these iron deficient zones, we would be able to promote the growth of algae in ecosystems otherwise devoid of them. This increase in algae would help to absorb more dissolved CO2 in the ocean through the increased photosynthesis occurring. More algae would also provide more food for the organisms in the ecosystem which would promote a general increase in sea life and biodiversity in the ecosystem. Several groups have embarked upon iron fertilization such as LOHAFEX in 2009, who have fertilized low silicic acid waters, EIFEX in 2005, who made progress fertilizing the waters of Africa, and HSRC who caused an increase in algae growth near the islands of Haida Gwaii.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Judge
    February 24, 2015 | 03:38 p.m.

    Hi, Team!
    great design for the Machine, very stylish.
    How does the introduction of iron stimulate diatom growth? Have you tried Fe fertilization in a test-tube or fish tank of algae? I’m trying to envision the “meticulous introduction” of Fe — and what form of Fe would be best?

  • Icon for: Ricky C

    Ricky C

    Co-Presenter
    February 26, 2015 | 07:55 a.m.

    Hey Brian,
    Iron is an element that is required in the process of photosynthesis. Because multiple areas of the ocean are iron deficient, iron acts as a limiting factor in the growth of algae; there is not enough iron to support the photosynthesis that algae rely upon for life in places like the Ross Sea by Antarctica. While we would have loved to be able to simulate iron fertilization and perform further testing ourselves (and still hope to be able to do in the future), we were never able to. Guided by our teacher and one of his colleagues, we ran into consistent obstacles with experimentation that focused on proving the inverse relationship between dissolved CO2 concentration and pH. Determined to lay the foundation for future work, we spent much of our time early on trying to correct these experiments, but when we had finally succeeded in our efforts, the competition had reached a point where carrying out more experimentation would have left us unprepared for the judging and at end of the project. Because of this, we decided to look more towards innovation than tangible and provable solutions (in our own lab). The machine would distribute iron meticulously as controlled by the software programmed into it.

  • Icon for: Gillian Puttick

    Gillian Puttick

    Judge
    February 24, 2015 | 03:59 p.m.

    Great machine, very high production value to your video! You mention in your poster that you were able to calculate the acidification of seawater by CO2. Can you briefly describe some of your methods and findings for these calculations? Also, I am curious to know how algae deploy CO2…Do they draw on gaseous CO2 in the water just like land plants?

  • Icon for: Ricky C

    Ricky C

    Co-Presenter
    February 26, 2015 | 07:54 a.m.

    Hey Gilly,
    We went to Revere beach and gathered ocean water samples with a few test tubes. In our lab at our high school, we introduced CO2 into multiple samples in a controlled system by means of baking soda and vinegar reactions. We were able to measure the pH of our modified samples to find that with a pH probe detector the acidity increased (h+ ions were created), which was made evident by the lower pH value (below 7) read by the pH detector. Algae absorb dissolved CO2 in a process much like that of normal plants and create glucose and O2 through photosynthesis, however, in order to receive such energy from the sun, algae must be situated in areas where the sunlight can reach which make them populous in the photic zone of waters. If we manipulate the number of algae in the ocean then we can control the amount of harmful CO2 the ocean has obtained through the atmosphere and prevent damaging effects such as coral reef erosion. In terms of innovating a method of determining pH with an autonomous structure like the machine we proposed, we had ideas for creating a portable titration system whose functionality would be governed by computer software. With a little research, we found an organization known as Marianda (Marine Analytics and Data) who specializes in developing instrumentation in the field of chemical analysis and has prepared the VINDTA 3D, a CO2 extraction and alkalinity detection system which is very similar to our design.

  • February 26, 2015 | 04:59 p.m.

    Hello Ricky, Excellent responses to our questions! Iron fertilization of the oceans is a complex and controversial subject. As you say, it has been tried but there is much to be learned. If I understand correctly, your machine would carefully distribute iron in the photic zone where it would have the greatest impact on algae… Is this correct?

  • Icon for: Jasper Haag

    Jasper Haag

    Co-Presenter
    February 26, 2015 | 06:54 p.m.

    Yes the machine would distribute iron at those depths. In previous experiments, iron compounds were deposited at or near the surface, so through the underwater introduction of iron we would hopefully be able to reach deeper parts of the photic zone and take fuller advantage of its depth.

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Judge
    February 27, 2015 | 08:49 a.m.

    Fun video to watch. Congrats! So what drove you to this project? What was most interesting and most frustrating about doing it? And what are your plans to do next?

  • Icon for: Jasper Haag

    Jasper Haag

    Co-Presenter
    March 1, 2015 | 09:13 p.m.

    I can’t speak for my whole team, but personally I was drawn to the opportunity to actually do something tangible with what I had been learning in school. I love academics, but I am also interested in applying what I learn (which is why I am drawn so strongly to computer science).

    The most frustrating part of the project definitely centered around our early trouble with setting a baseline for pH changes in water due to CO2. Even with the help of our Chemistry teacher and one of his colleagues who works in a lab in the area, we were unable to get accurate results for much of the early part of this school year. In the end we succeeded, but the experimentation route was seeming less viable as the deadline approached and so we focused on innovation and the use of completed research for our final product in lieu of rigorous testing.

    I know that personally I would love to test what we came up and to see the results for myself. While my passion doesn’t strictly lie in this field now (as I mentioned, it lies in computer science), I would love to see where our work could take us in the future. As of right now I am planning on getting some experience in computer science/programming over the summer through internships or research programs in the Boston area.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

Presentation Discussion

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    Anonymous

    Guest
    February 26, 2015 | 02:20 p.m.

    The video really captures your enthusiasm and humor — great approach to research!

  • Icon for: Jasper Haag

    Jasper Haag

    Co-Presenter
    February 26, 2015 | 06:25 p.m.

    Thanks for the comment. While we would like to continue to explore this topic in a more research-oriented environment in the future, we all enjoyed the innovation aspect of the project and what we learned from the process that went into thinking about and researching our ideas.

  • Further posting is closed as the competition has ended.

  1. Efran H
  2. Presenter’s INNOVATETOMITIGATE
  3. Intelligent Life Forms
  1. Kevin C
  2. Presenter’s INNOVATETOMITIGATE
  3. Intelligent Life Forms
  1. Ricky C
  2. Presenter’s INNOVATETOMITIGATE
  3. Intelligent Life Forms
  1. Jasper H
  2. Presenter’s INNOVATETOMITIGATE
  3. Intelligent Life Forms

Phytoplankton Behavior Through The Meticulous Introduction of Iron

To address the problem that the growing concentration of CO2 poses on the atmosphere, and more specifically, the water of our planet, we conducted research and experimentation that have allowed us to quantitatively calculate the acidification of ocean water by induction of CO2 and, furthermore, hypothesize mechanical solutions. We propose a subaquatic vessel capable of manipulating phytoplankton behavior through the meticulous introduction of iron: a vital nutrient for diatom proliferation. The role of this group of algae aligns with current mitigation strategies because it is one in which natural photosynthetic reactions follow, providing a method of carbon breakdown and a method for alternative energy. Given current technology, this machine would be a submersible equipped to absorb algae and determine dissolved concentrations of CO2 when resurfaced. Algae biofuel extraction could prove profitable in the near future. It is worth noting that companies have embarked upon similar solutions—manifesting validity in our machine.