Warning: Attempt to read property "post_content" on null in /home/customer/www/algaeplanet.com/public_html/wp-content/themes/Extra/includes/builder/feature/dynamic-assets/class-dynamic-assets.php on line 2078
Biochar May Help Fight HABs - algaeplanet.com

Biochar May Help Fight HABs

 Seagriculture EU 2024
Biochar

Cyanobacteria in the St. Lucie Estuary can release toxins that affect the liver and nervous system. Credit: Greg Allen/NPR

by Ryan Randall, Florida Institute of Technology

Toufiq Reza, biomedical and chemical engineering and sciences assistant professor, and Spencer Fire, ocean engineering and marine sciences assistant professor, both at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), have collaborated in researching mitigation and control of harmful algal blooms. Their goal is to utilize locally produced low-cost sustainable biochar to control harmful algal blooms in Florida’s St. Lucie Estuary, Indian River Lagoon, Tampa Bay Estuary and Sarasota Bay.

The biochar, a porous carbon material, is created using waste biomass, such as agricultural wastes, as well as sargassum, a floating, seaweed algae that has been in the news recently for overtaking beaches in South Florida and Mexico. Using a high-temperature retort — like a furnace — the waste is turned into biochar, which would be then spread across the lagoon water. As with the activated carbon in a Brita or PUR water filter, the biochar would absorb the toxins in the water, and ultimately fall to the bottom, trapping the toxins in the process.

“Our goal is to use that biochar to remove toxins from different harmful algal blooms like red tide, pyrodinium, and blue-green algae,” Dr. Reza said. “So far, the result has been amazing.”

It has been an eye-opening experience for students, he added. “Students have been highly motivated. For example, originally from Jamaica, Cadianne Chambers, a chemical engineering Ph.D. student, has seen firsthand the harmful algal bloom and sargassum in her country. She’s been excited about how effective biochar could be to mitigate harmful algal blooms.”

“Other undergraduate students, like Russel Smith from Ohio and Savannah Grimms from Illinois, are also aware of the harmful algal bloom devastations on the Great Lakes and they are excited to find an engineering solution using their engineering knowledge.”

Drs. Reza and Fire met in 2019, and the following year they began collaborating on research proposals. The ability to complement each other’s research has led to this collaboration, with the goal of improving the community around them. Having lived near the Indian River Lagoon for some time, Dr. Fire was familiar with a lot of the effects that harmful algal blooms have on human and wildlife health and water quality. Coupled with Dr. Reza’s background in chemical engineering, the two have been able to turn Dr. Fire’s analysis of water quality issues into green and sustainable ways to solve the problems.

The projects have also led to work with community members such as a local biochar producer in Indiantown as well as FIT alumna and owner of Treasure Coast Shellfish, Nicolette Mariano, who is on the research team’s advisory board.

The opportunity to assist businesses is something that has added an extra layer to Dr. Fire’s side of the research. Another FIT alumnus, David Tomasko, executive director of Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, aims to reduce the negative impact of Sarasota Bay from red tide. Biochar could be a potential solution to this problem.

“Someone who owns an aquaculture pen and has a big crop of oysters or shellfish, and then red tide comes in, they could lose their entire crop overnight if there’s a big harmful algal bloom,” Dr. Fire said. “So, having an actual application that can be used by folks to potentially not have a catastrophic business loss is one of the times I’ve ever been able to look at a problem and say, ‘Hey, there’s a solution for that.’”

All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint articles in their entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact david@algaeplanet.com. Algae Planet accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

Seagriculture USA 2024
AlgaeMetrics

Subscribe

Breaking-News

  • February 19, 2024: Microalgae producer Phycom, based in Veenendaal, The Netherlands, has received a €1.75 million investment from ROM Utrecht Region, together with a private investor. This follows its recent Series A investment, bringing the total raised funding to more than €10.5 million in six months. READ MORE...
  • February 16, 2024: “We believe everyday materials should help to replenish the planet from sea to soil,” says Julia Marsh, co-founder of Sway, the California startup replacing plastic packaging with seaweed-based solutions, that recently secured a $5 million seed round. “The launch of our thermoplastic seaweed materials, along with an influx of new capital targeted at scaling production, signifies tangible progress toward a more circular future.” READ MORE...
  • February 12, 2024: German made equipment will be used this year to turn the sargassum that lands in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, into fuel. Lourdes Várguez, the Secretary of Sustainable Environment and Climate Change, says the equipment will be tested to take advantage of the municipality’s unwanted seaweed. READ MORE...

Algae Europe 2024

A Beginner’s Guide