Bloom Busters: Clarkson students take the fight to harmful algae

Bloom busters: Clarkson students take fight to algae

NORWOOD, N.Y. (WWNY) - They could be harmful algal blooms’ worst nightmare.

A small group of Clarkson University students were out on Norwood Lake, developing technology to eradicate them without causing harm to the environment.

“Harmful algae blooms are really everywhere, specifically in the Northeast,” said Clarkson professor Dr. Stafan Grimberg. “They’re harmful to animals, and they’re harmful to people swimming in them, so we want to address that as quickly as we can.”

The students, under the guidance of Dr. Grimberg, and using technology developed by Clarkson assistant professor, Dr. Yang Yang, have received state funding to tackle the algae problem.

So, how does it work? It involves what’s called an electrochemical oxidation process, using electric filters that oxidize algae, and clear up the water.

“The idea for our technology is to do the pump and treats, so when we pump the contaminated water through the filter, anything attached to the anode will be rapidly oxidized,” Dr. Yang said.

And it doesn’t just work on lakes like this one. The pump and filter system can be altered to work in larger bodies of water, and can be easily transported anywhere.

“We are excited to not only deploy this system to solve our local problem, but solve the problem nationwide,” Dr. Yang said.

Clarkson graduate student Shasha Yang is in charge of lab testing, sampling, and analysis.

“It’s exciting! So I started from the lab scale test, so I played with the smaller electrodes, and it worked. I was so excited to see the green water turn clear within minutes. That make me think, OK, my work is of value,” Yang said.

The Clarkson team will test their technology alongside researchers at SUNY ESF Monday at Lake Neatahwanta in Oswego County. Initially, this was meant to serve as a competition between the two schools, but the Department of Environmental Conservation has decided to use both groups’ technologies in the fight against algae.

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