Bottom-Illuminated Orbital Shaker for Microalgae Cultivation

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13 Citations (Scopus)


A bottom-illuminated orbital shaker designed for the cultivation of microalgae suspensions is described in this open-source hardware report. The instrument agitates and illuminates microalgae suspensions grown inside flasks. It was optimized for low production cost, simplicity, low power consumption, design flexibility, consistent, and controllable growth light intensity. The illuminated orbital shaker is especially well suited for low-resource research laboratories and education. It is an alternative to commercial instruments for microalgae cultivation. It improves on typical do-it-yourself microalgae growth systems by offering consistent and well characterized illumination light intensity. The illuminated growth area is 20 cm × 15 cm, which is suitable for three T75 tissue culture flasks or six 100 ml Erlenmeyer flasks. The photosynthetic photon flux density, is variable in eight steps (26-800μmol·m -2·s -1) and programmable in a 24-h light/dark cycle. The agitation speed is variable (0-210RPM). The overall material cost is around £300, including an entry-level orbital shaker. The build takes two days, requiring electronics and mechanical assembly capabilities. The instrument build is documented in a set of open-source protocols, design files, and source code. The design can be readily modified, scaled, and adapted for other orbital shakers and specific experimental requirements. The instrument function was validated by growing fresh-water microalgae Desmodesmus quadricauda and Chlorella vulgaris. The cultivation protocols, microalgae growth curves, and doubling times are included in this report.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00143
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2020


  • 3D printing
  • Algae
  • Cell culture
  • Chlorella vulgaris
  • Cultivation
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Desmodesmus quadricauda
  • Education
  • Electronics
  • FOSS
  • Free
  • Free and open source
  • Growth chamber
  • Microalgae
  • Open hardware
  • Open source
  • Open source hardware
  • Orbital shaker
  • Shaking incubator
  • Teaching


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