ERDC R&D Supports Harmful Algal Bloom Removal Technology in Ohio Demonstration > Engineers Research and Development Center > News

VICKSBOURG, Miss.– Researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) attended a demonstration of harmful freshwater algae removal technology at Lake William H. Harsha in Batavia, Ohio, Sept. 15.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources H2Ohio Program hosted the event, along with industry partners Woolpert, an architectural, engineering, geospatial and strategic consulting firm, and AECOM, an infrastructure and engineering firm, presenting the technology. The Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment and Transformation (HABITATS) System underpins the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Removal Unit demonstrated at the lake, which is located just outside of Cincinnati.

“This supports our current focus on technology transition – we have played a pivotal role in developing impactful technology for HAB mitigation in collaboration with academic, industry and government partners, and it is exciting to see the level of stakeholder engagement in assessing potential capacity transition,” said Dr Martin Page, Head of ERDC’s Water Operations Research Team.

In 2019, Page and his ERDC team developed the HABITATS approach, which integrates several complementary technologies to create a scalable capability that removes harmful algae and associated nutrients from large bodies of water, turning the resulting biomass into products like biofuels. and fertilizers while destroying all potential. toxins.

HABITATS is scalable because it can be adapted to a range of flower types and sizes in a variety of climates – important considerations for this technology as HABs have occurred in regions from Florida to New York.

“AECOM played a key role in the HABITATS effort by leading the development of dissolved air flotation technology that separates cyanobacteria from water, a key step that was adapted and improved in the effort to HABITATS,” Page said.

Cyanobacteria, or the harmful species of blue-green algae that cause HABs, pose a significant threat to the country’s water resources and economy, affecting reservoir operations, recreation, water supply, wildlife and human health and safety. According to an article in a May 2017 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, a 2014 toxic HAB event in Lake Erie alone caused an estimated $71 million in economic losses for the city of Toledo, cutting off access to drinking water for more than two days. .

The ERDC team filed an invention disclosure last year for some chemical treatment processes that Page says worked well for HABITATS.

“The HABITATS technology itself has not been patented, which will hopefully accelerate technology transfer and public use,” said Dr. Jen Seiter-Moser, ERDC Technical Director for the engineering and the environmental sciences of public works.

Page’s ERDC team, along with AECOM and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), demonstrated HABITATS at pilot scale in 2019 at Lake Okeechobee in Florida.

“In 2020, we did two more field demonstrations with AECOM, one in Florida and one in New York,” Page said. “We identified some gaps in the technology that would limit scalability. Since then, we have been working in parallel with AECOM to fill these gaps.

“This summer we held a big HABIATS demonstration in Florida,” Page said. “AECOM visited the site in early August and also provided us with large samples of algal biomass from one of their other demonstrations, which was then processed to create bio crude oil in a trailer-mounted hydrothermal liquefaction system that was designed and operated by our employees. at the University of Illinois.

PNNL was also on site for the demonstration and processes demonstration materials at its facility to assess oil yields and process crude oil into diesel fuel.

In the latest demonstration in Ohio, ERDC provided testing equipment and carried out field work to assess algal concentrations in source water at various depths.

“The data collected will help us assess and improve the scalability of HABITATS,” Page said. “We also evaluated an in-situ algae flotation method to help pre-concentrate algae at the water surface, which would further improve the scalability and efficiency of HABITATS.”

“We are really excited about the progress of this technology,” Seiter-Moser said. “This is another tool in the country’s toolbox to fight HABs. Partnerships are key to solving complex environmental problems like HABs.

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