Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Algal turf scrubbers clean water with sunlight

01.06.2011
Byproducts useful for fertilizer, fuel and nutraceuticals could tip the economic balance in favor of the novel purification systems

An article published in the June issue of BioScience describes the early scale-up stage of a new biotechnology with environmental benefits and possible commercial potential. Algal turf scrubbers are field-sized, water-treatment systems that can extract excess nutrients from streams, canals, and lakes polluted by agricultural, domestic, and some industrial runoff.

They use sunlight as their principal source of energy and simultaneously restore oxygen levels. The devices work by pulsing contaminated water across algae that are allowed to grow on screens. Algal turf scrubbers produce waste suitable for use as a nitrogen- and phosphorus-rich fertilizer and for conversion to biofuel or high-value nutraceuticals. Some algal turf scrubbers can even operate in open water, thus minimizing loss of agricultural land to the systems.

The BioScience article, by Walter H. Adey of the Smithsonian Institution, Patrick C. Kangas of the University of Maryland, and Walter Mulbry of the US Department of Agriculture, notes that the need to clean wastewater and various types of runoff contaminated with nitrogen and phosphorus is immediate in many places where natural waters are polluted. Furthermore, some ecologists are worried about global supplies of phosphorus for use in fertilizer, so the byproduct could become more valuable over time.

The article stresses that algal turf scrubbing is not likely to ever be profitable just as a way of making fuel. Although more productive than terrestrial crops, algae, like other potential sources of biofuel, are expensive to cultivate, harvest, process, and convert into useful amounts of energy. But algal turf scrubbing could become common if the economic value of nutrient removal can be applied to the cost of building and running the units. That might depend on public policy that imposes a predictable cost on pollution of natural waters. But the fuel, fertilizer, and nutraceutical byproducts from algal turf scrubbing can only help.

After noon EDT on 1 June and for the remainder of the month, the full text of the article will be available for free download through the copy of this Press Release available at www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/.

BioScience, published monthly, is the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, with a focus on "Organisms from Molecules to the Environment." The journal has been published since 1964. AIBS is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents some 200 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of about 250,000.

The complete list of peer-reviewed articles in the June 2011 issue of BioScience is as follows:

Algal Turf Scrubbing: Cleaning Surface Waters with Solar Energy while Producing a Biofuel.

Walter H. Adey, Patrick C. Kangas, and Walter Mulbry

Intervention Ecology: Applying Ecological Science in the Twenty-first Century.
Richard J. Hobbs, Lauren M. Hallett, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Harold A. Mooney
Forecasting Environmental Hazards and the Application of Risk Maps to Predator Attacks on Livestock.

Adrian Treves, Kerry A. Martin, Adrian P. Wydeven, and Jane E. Wiedenhoeft

Creating a Successful Citizen Science Model to Detect and Report Invasive Species.

Travis Gallo and Damon Waitt

Training the Next Generation of Renaissance Scientists: The GK-12 Ecologists, Educators, and Schools Program at The University of Montana.

Brooke Baldauf McBride, Carol A. Brewer, Mary Bricker, and Michael Machura

Linking Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge of Climate Change.
Clarence Alexander, Nora Bynum, Elizabeth Johnson, Ursula King, Tero Mustonen, Peter Neofotis, Noel Oettlé, Cynthia Rosenzweig, Chie Sakakibara, Vyacheslav Shadrin, Marta Vicarelli, Jon Waterhouse, and Brian Weeks

Tim Beardsley | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aibs.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells
22.08.2017 | National University Health System

nachricht Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>