Group Project Proposal (Engineering)

SCHOOL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, SINGAPORE

INVESTIGATIVE SKILLS IN SCIENCE

Names: Goh Chin Ray / Lim Hong Wei / Gabriel Yap

Class: S2-04

 

Group Reference:  B

A. Indicate the type of research that you are adopting
[  
X  ] Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research

B. Type & Category

Type of research: 6 (Improve a product or process: Industrial and applied research)

Category  –  13 (Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering)

Sub-category –  a (Bioengineering)

Application of project relevant to SST Community, Society or the World
When creating Biorock™, we provide a habitat for corals to thrive, allowing them to thrive and their population to increase. This helps in the coral regeneration efforts worldwide. For example 35% of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached due to global warming (resulting in increased water temperatures). This system can help regenerate it.

C. Write down your research title:
Development of a Photovoltaic Biorock™ system

D.

(a) Problem being addressed
A widespread issue around the world is coral bleaching. Corals are marine invertebrate that thrive in coral reefs, which are built and held together through corals secreting calcium carbonate. Coral reefs are extremely important to various groups of people (or animals). Firstly, coral reefs are habitats to approximately 5 billion fishes. Therefore, a large percentage of fishing yields can be attributed mainly to coral reefs. Based on research, an estimated one billion people have some dependence on coral reefs, either for food or income from fishing. If properly managed (by the fisheries and private fishermen, along with other companies that interact with the ocean), reefs can yield around 15 tonnes of fish and other seafood per square kilometre each year. Secondly, tourism can generate a huge amount of income for a country, as people may travel far and wide just to catch a glimpse of a coral reef, like the Great Barrier Reef. According to a report by the Key West chamber of commerce, tourists visiting the Florida Keys in the US, coral cay archipelago, generate at least US$3 billion dollars in annual income from tourism alone, which is mainly contributed to by coral reefs, while Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef ecosystem, generates well over US$1 billion per year. Therefore, sustainable management of coral reef ecosystems and proper tourism measures can significantly increase a country’s income and GDP. Another way that coral reefs can contribute is through protecting coastal areas from natural disasters such as tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes and the like. This helps to prevent coastal erosion (which leads to water pollution), and damage or loss of property on or near the shoreline, which can cause millions or even billions of dollars of damage in terms of reduced insurance and reconstruction costs, as well as costly coastal protection defences. Fourth is the obvious reason of coral reef organisms being used for medical purposes, like in tropical rainforests. Currently, there are already coral reef organisms used to treat cancer and HIV. Thus, if the coral reefs are taken care of and are health, Last of all, the coral reefs are interwoven with the culture and social fabric of many places. For some people who have experienced snorkeling with a mask and snorkel, looking at the colourful corals, a life without corals is no life at all.

(b) Goals
We are aiming to develop a sustainable system which is able to rebuild the habitat suitable for coral growth. Through this, we hope to aid in the coral regeneration around the world and reduce the effect of global warming on the population of corals.

(c) Specify Requirements
In particular, we want to:  

(d) 3 possible Solutions

Solution 1

Our first design shows about all the items (anode, cathode, cooler) connected to the solar panel. This idea is not feasible because the cooler by itself requires a huge amount of electricity, and the solar panel cannot produce enough electricity to support it.

Solution 2

Our second design is similar to the first design, except the anode and cathode are connected to a battery and circuit regulator, which is in turn connected to a solar panel for an electrical supply. The cooler is then connected to an electrical plug. This is slightly similar to what will happen in the ocean, because the anode and cathode will actually be connected to the solar panel, while the cooler will not be there (the seawater is cool enough).

Solution 3

Our third design consists of a copper rod (anode) and wire mesh (cathode) and a cooler, all of which is connected to an electrical plug. This setup is used to test whether our setup really works, without the possible errors that could introduced due to the solar panel (e.g. solar panel not functioning).

Ocean Context

This design shows how the setup would look like in an ocean context. It is similar to design 2, except that all the non-waterproof parts (e.g. solar panel, cooler) will be placed on a floating platform, which will be sheltered. Also, the whole setup will be in a much greater scale.

(e) Choice and rationale for choice
i) Choice

Ranking matrix

Colour

Weight

Size

Cost to produce

Elegance

Robustness

Aesthetics

Resources

Time

Skill required

Safety

Ease of use

Environmental Impact

Row Total

Normalised value

Colour

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Weight

3

0

3

3

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

2

17

0.07

Size

3

0

3

3

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

2

17

0.07

Cost to produce

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Elegance

3

3

3

3

0

3

3

0

0

0

0

0

18

0.08

Robustness

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

0

0

0

2

3

26

0.11

Aesthetics

3

0

0

2

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

6

0.03

Resources

3

0

0

3

1

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

9

0.04

Time

3

3

2

3

3

2

3

2

2

2

2

2

29

0.12

Skill Required

3

3

3

3

3

1

3

2

0

1

1

1

24

0.10

Safety

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

1

2

2

3

32

0.14

Ease of use

3

3

2

3

3

3

3

3

2

2

3

3

33

0.14

Environmental Impact

3

2

1

3

3

3

3

3

0

1

0

2

24

0.10

Total

235

Table 1: The ranking matrix for factors affecting the choice

Decision making grid

Requirement

Solution 1

Solution 2

Solution 3

Factors

Normalised value

Votes (0 to 5)

Normalised votes

Votes (0 to 5)

Normalised votes

Votes (0 to 5)

Normalised votes

#1: Ease of use

0.14

4

0.56

4.33

0.60

5

0.70

#2: Safety

0.14

1

0.14

1.67

0.23

3

0.42

#3: Time

0.12

0.67

0.08

1

0.12

1

0.12

Total points

0.78

0.95

1.24

Table 2: The decision making matrix for the 3 most important factors.

ii) Rationale

Solution 1: For Solution 1, the whole set up makes use of the electricity from a solar panel, thus too much power is needed. However, in the open ocean, there is no need for coolers and water pumps, as the water temperature will be okay and there will be sufficient oxygen from aquatic plants.

Solution 2: Solution 2, even though it is not the highest, we will be following the design towards our experiment. This is because , the water cooler and the water pump are being powered by the electric plug, which makes it feasible. Furthermore, in the ocean, the water are already in the right temperature and air is being supplied by the plants through photosynthesis. This makes them dependant variable, so it is not required of it to be powered by the solar panel. This will only be carried out after design 3 has been utilised to test if the setup works.

Solution 3: Despite the fact the Solution 3 obtained the highest number of points, we cannot use that solution because all the electricity is obtained from a power point. This is impossible in the open ocean, but due to its ease of use, it obtained a very high point.This setup is used to test whether our setup really works, without the possible errors that could introduced due to the solar panel (e.g. solar panel not functioning).

Reason for voting time badly: This is because Biorock is a very long process which takes years to collect a bit of rock. With such a short time frame we are given, we are just simply planning to cultivate just a small portion of biorock, enough that we are able to prove that our experiments is able to sustain throughout the day.

 

E. Method – Description in detail of method or procedures (The following are important and key items that should be included when formulating ANY AND ALL research plans.)

(a) Equipment list:

(b) Diagrams

This is how our setup would look like.

(c) Procedures for building: Detail all procedures for construction of prototype

  1. Place the setup into a well-lit area, so that sunlight can be converted into electricity by the solar panel.
  2. With the use of crocodile clips, connect the solar panel(input), battery (output 1) and copper rod and wire mesh (output 2) to the circuit regulator.
  3. Pour 10 gallons of water and 1.2 kg of coral pro salt into the box.
  4. Add coral pieces into the water.
  5. Create a shelter/ waterproof the cables and wires. E.g. Placing garbage bags over the battery and the circuit regulator.

(d) Procedures for testing: Detail all procedures for testing of prototype

  1. The solar energy from the sun will be converted into electrical energy by the solar panel.
  2. Half of the electricity is stored in the battery (for nighttime and bad weather).
  3. The electrical energy will flow to the copper rods and into the water, and electrolysis will take place.
  4. Deposit (calcium carbonate (aragonite) combined with magnesium, chloride and hydroxyl ions) will be formed.
  5. Over time cathodic protection replaces the negative chloride (Cl-)ion with dissolved bicarbonate (HCO3-) to harden the coating to a hydromagnesite-aragonite mixture with gaseous oxygen being evolved through the porous structure. This hardened, concrete-like structure for a habitat for coral growth.
  6. Some electrical energy will be used for the cooler to cool the water to the suitable temperature (20oC) by moving water into the cooler, cooling it, and returning it to the tank.
  7. With the right conditions (e.g. habitat - deposit, temperature - 20°C ), coral can grow again.

Nourishment + Respiration: Corals obtain nourishment from the zooxanthellae living in and among it (The zooxanthellae are algae that carry out photosynthesis, thus they require sunlight. Sugars and oxygen are produced through photosynthesis.)

Zooxanthellae: zooxanthellae are algae that carry out photosynthesis (require sunlight), thus they convert sunlight (clear water is then required), water and carbon dioxide (product from coral’s respiration) into sugars (for nourishment of corals) and oxygen (for respiration of corals)

Zooplankton: for additional nourishment, coral feed on zooplankton (a kind of tiny, floating animal)

Water Temperature: corals generally thrive in temperatures ranging from 20oC to 32oC

Clean Water: sediments can harm the corals and block sunlight from reaching the zooxanthellae; wastewater can result in too much nutrients and consequently overgrowth of seaweeds, also blocking the sunlight from reaching the zooxanthellae

Saltwater: corals require a certain ratio of salt to water.

Also, in order to test what the deposit on our wire mesh was, we used the following tests (to tests if it was calcium carbonate, as we expected).

Procedures for testing for Calcium (Flame test)

  1. Dip a clean flame test loop in the sample solution.
  2. Hold the flame test loop at the edge of a bunsen burner flame.
  3. Observe the changed colour of the flame, and decide which metal it indicates.
  4. Clean the loop in acid and rinse with water, then repeat steps 1 to 3 with a new sample.

Procedures for testing for Carbonate 

  1. Use a metal ruler or a scraper to extract the deposit.
  2. Pour hydrochloric acid onto the deposit.
  3. See if effervescence occurs
  4. Pass the test tube through limewater
  5. If limewater turn chalky, carbon dioxide is present.

(e) Risk, Assessment and Management: Identify any potential risks and safety precautions to be taken.

Risk

Assessment

Management

There are wires and batteries that have to be placed near/in water. If there is a short circuit, and someone puts his/her hand in the water, he/she may be electrocuted.

High

Before having contact with any parts, ensure no breaks or tears in the wires.

Always wear thick rubber gloves when putting hands in water, as rubber is an insulator of electricity.

If someone accidentally consumes the Coral Pro Salt or the water, health may be harmed

Medium

Ensure distance and take extra precaution. Also be ready to seek help from an adult in case of emergencies.

The hot wires might burn or injure someone, especially if it is burnt through.

Medium

Wear protective gloves when coming into contact with the wires. Ensure that hands are dry before touching exposed electrical parts.

Legend

Low

Unlikely and not severe harm

Medium

Likely but not severe OR Unlikely but severe

High

Likely and Severe harm

Table 3: Risk Assessment and Management table

(f) Data Analysis: Describe the procedures you will use to analyze the data/results that answer engineering goals

  1. Measure the mass of the anode and cathode daily
  2. Plot a graph/fill in a table to show the changes in the mass, and whether it makes sense
  3. When we find out that the wire mesh (cathode) did increase in mass, we inferred that if we made a large-scale version of our setup, it would be sufficient to house corals, rebuilding coral reefs
  4. We then plot the a line graph ( X axis-Days/ Y axis-Mass) of the changes of mass and through the increase/decrease of weight we will then come up with the relationship between the set-up and the result.

F. Bibliography: List at least five (5) major sources (e.g. science journal articles, books, internet sites) from your literature review. If you plan to use vertebrate animals, one of these references must be an animal care reference. Choose the APA format and use it consistently to reference the literature used in the research plan. List your entries in alphabetical order for each type of source.

(a) Books

Holden A. et al (2011). Crystals and Crystal Growing. Cambridge, MA, USA: The MIT Press.

(b) Journals

G, S., E, Y., H, K., T, N., S, M., & K, W. (1997). Effects of a magnetic field on the nucleation and growth of protein crystals. Journal of Crystal Growth, 173(1-2), 231–234. doi:10.1016/S0022-0248(96)00777-4

(c) Websites

About.com (2013, July 10). How to grow great crystals. Retrieved from

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/growingcrystals/a/aa012604.htm.

Scientific American (2013). Solubility Science: How to Grow the Best Crystals: A chemistry challenge from Science Buddies. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=bring-science-home-crystals.

Wiki How (2013, July 01). How to Make Salt Crystals. Retrieved from

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Salt-Crystals.