We are the Robo Rebels, a group of eight graders competing in First Lego League. Our research project was awarded the Innovative Solution Award at the 2010 Minnesota FLL State tournament. We also received an Innovative Solution second place award at the 2008 HTK FLL International Open as sixth graders for our auto-dimmer switch based on a Mindstorms light sensor.
This year we stumped the judges during the question and answer session and still had three minutes remaining. The judges were impressed with the level of our research and ran out of questions for our team.
We researched using algae and a Low Nitrogen Oxide Filter to filter carbon dioxide and particulate matter out of school bus exhaust. We call our invention the Algae Tube Filtration System – ATFS. Our invention fulfills NAE Grand Challenge criteria of Sustainability and Health by cleaning exhaust and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. Min from the University of Minnesota found our concept to be quite feasible.
Our design is based on algae consuming carbon dioxide out of the environment through photosynthesis. The AFTS can theoretically remove 30-50% out of school bus exhaust. We chose to use the synechococcus strain of hot springs algae, because these algae can stay alive in temperatures of up to 162 degrees Fahrenheit.
The algae tube is located on the back of the bus, running up the side. A one-way valve keeps the water from flowing toward the engine. It carries 20 pounds of algae in 3 gallons of water.