18.09.14 - Through the EPFL - UNIVALLE collaboration, a team of five students arrived in Cali on the 8th of July in order to continue the development of a bioreactor.

This project, led by Prof. Julien Wist from UniValle and Dr. Luc Patiny from EPFL, aims to build a fully automated bioreactor allowing the cultivation and observation of a bacterial consortium with high potential for wastewater treatment in highly controlled conditions.

23.07.14 - First weeks in Colombia

As the project is based on the work done by other students during the last two years, a prototype already exists and works well. The task is to carry on this development, to improve the existing version, to make it more compact and to develop additional peripherals. The bioreactor is based on an Arduino Leonardo development platform that allows the measurement and the control of different parameters (temperature, pH, gas composition…). All the data is uploaded on a web server, making it possible to visualize the measurements and to control various parameters.

In order to benefit of the presence of Luc Patiny in Cali and to be coached on the project, the students started to work as soon as they arrived in Colombia. The first week was used to get familiar with the details of the project, to sort out the material and to organize the workflow.

As life does not only consist of work, the students got to have a first glance at the city and were introduced to the Colombian life at the beginning of their stay in Cali. Friendships with other Colombian students from the Universidad del Valle made them feel very welcomed. These two months are going to be promising both in terms of work as in human experiences.

03.09.14 - News about the internship

It has been two months that the team of students are working on the project of bioreactor. A good work has been done. The end of developement and some optimizations have been done on the main control bord, on the pH meter and on the gaz flow control. The tasks of this job have included designing, mounting, soldering and testing of the boards. Last but not least, the work on the software part of bioreactor: the microcontroleur programmation of the Arduino board.

This internship could be resumed as "engineering work and discovering Colombia". Even if the work on the project during the day isn't much different that if it would has been down at EPFL, as soon as the students leave the lab, they are in Cali, a Colombian city with a great cultural variety and salsa at every corner of Cali. Some of the students have visited the village of San Cipriano, not that far from Cali. This village, situated in a remote place in the forest, is famous for its uncomon way of access : a motorail, a kind of small engine using the train rails but propulsed by motorbikes.

While the first month has been invested in designing, mounting and debugging the boards, the seconds month has been used to test and make some adjustments on the bioreactor, with all the peripherics working together.

Discover Colombia

Even if week-ends are short, it allows the students to discover parts of Colombia, to participate at cultural events in Cali and to visit some places outside of the city. The students have organised a trip to Buenaventura on the Pacific coast which is only at 4 hours in bus from Cali. At the program: discovering the pacific culture, food and enjoying the wild beaches of the island.

Author:Corinne WaridelSource:Cooperation