[NEWS] Toxic Algal Blooms Tomorrow’s Biofuels?
– by Steve Brachmann, July 31, 2016, IP Watchdog
The recent harmful algal bloom (HAB) coursing through four counties in the state of Florida is garnering a great deal of media attention, but it’s not the only bloom affecting U.S. waterways. In mid-July, state officials in Utah shut down public access to Utah Lake, a freshwater body just outside of Provo which was 90 percent covered with algal bloom at the time of the order. In the Great Lakes region, scientists expected a toxic bloom to occur once again this year in Lake Erie, although more moderate rainfall this spring should make the bloom smaller than in years past. The frequency of algal blooms in America could increase if the country’s climate becomes warmer and better remedies for agricultural runoff aren’t implemented.
Recently, we explored technologies for fighting algal blooms which run the gamut from techniques for depleting phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients and ultrasonic technologies for ripping away at the cellular walls of algae. Today, we’ll turn the conversation towards productive ways that algae can be repurposed into commercial products, turning an environmental crisis into a consumer opportunity.
Cyanobacteria, also known as “blue-green algae,” are the most common culprits behind the noxious algal blooms seen in Florida and elsewhere. It converts nutrients like nitrogen into ammonia, a chemical which is seen in many commercial fertilizers. It’s also believed that many of the world’s oil deposits which date back to the Proterozoic Eon, the latest part of the Precambrian time just before complex life formed on Earth, were formed because of cyanobacteria activity during that period.