Good biology requires good equipment – and good DIY biology requires good DIY equipment, for cheap. Luckily for us, people are building DIY solutions for preforming tricky biological processes. Genspace member Nelson Ramon’s anaerobic glove box is a great example of just such a project.
DIY saves between $600 and $9,000!
This chamber creates positive pressure environment by pumping an inert gas like nitrogen or argon into the chamber, forcing oxygen out of the chamber — an important fact if you are interested in growing oxigen sensitive bacteria like Geobacter Sulfurreducens. And you should be! Geobacter are interesting little bugs. From the MicrobeWiki:
Geobacter sulfurreducens is of considerable ecological importance due to its wide range of biotechnologically exploitable bioremediation capabilities. The organism is involved in carbon cycling, can precipitate soluble metals, and has the ability to generate electricity.
Yep, you read that right, they reduce greenhouse gasses AND produce energy. Thats why Nelson was interested in working with geobacter as part of an on going microbial fuel cell project, BactElecTric. But in order to get started, first he needed a working environment geobacter could survive in — he needed an anaerobic glove box. So, like any good hacker, he made one.
Check out Nelson Ramon’s own write up of the project below!
I’m a happy owner of a 3D printer (UPi 3d printer), I’m even happier with it because I did not have to buy it, I won it. It was a first prize award for a special contest held by Instructables.com (a DIY/maker community). The contest involved developing and uploading an original instructables project and entering it to a newly created ITP Instructables group, for students/alumni of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. The projects’ evaluation was done by a committee of judges at Instructables. ITP wasn’t involved in giving the award.
The winning project is a DIY Anaerobic Chamber (or glove box), I designed and built during my thesis research project for my masters degree at ITP, while researching Microbial Fuel Cells, a living battery that can harness electricity from bacterial metabolisms. The Anaerobic chamber was built to grow a strain of bacteria that needs a low oxygen environment, It was brainstormed at Genspace and ITP and the lab is it’s home now. The 3D printer will be used on the Microbial Fuel Cells project to produce prototypes of organic-like, appealing designs for the energy cells to generate a friendly relationship with its users, supporting a conceptual part of the project. Also, the 3D printer has been put to good use at Genspace to support a slime mold workshop for Maker Faire UK ’12, and it is hoped that it will provide for more contributions to the community.
The goal of the Anaerobic Chamber was to make an affordable, useful, sturdy piece of bio-lab equipment that will not only serve me but that could be used by the community of the lab for their projects. When Oliver saw the finished piece he was amazed (and amused); it obviously looks DIY, but I succeeded in making it a reliable device for its purpose. It has been showcased at the Open Hardware Summit ’12 and the Maker Faire ’12 in NYC, where it got a lot of attention (and supporting smiles) form the public and organizers. I was the only bio-lab related DIY/maker project around. It’s also been blogged about and I’ve even been interviewed for radio and video shows about it.
It is a 12 step Instructable, where all of the materials and building procedures and tips are listed and explained as best as I could. It was featured in the main page of the site, as of now it has 21K + views. Tools used to do the process are not described but can be seen in the pictures. It was built in the ITP shop.