Anastasiia Matkovska; Austin Bettridge; Blake Allred; Jeff Keller, Utah Valley University
Hazardous algal blooms (HABs) are a serious environmental issue worldwide. HABs occur when water conditions (temperature, solar insolation, nutrients) foster rapid growth of cyanobacteria (blue green algae) and other microalgae. As photosynthetic organisms, microalgae like to grow at the surface of the water, so that they can obtain as much sunlight as possible. When the microalgae reach high concentrations, incoming sunlight is blocked, preventing photosynthesis. This results in death of the microalgae, which release endotoxins that are harmful to other organisms, including humans. The purpose of this research project is to control the microalgae content of Utah Lake, which will help prevent HABs, while still allowing the microalgae to live and participate in the ecosystem. For this project we designed a floating harvester to collect cyanobacteria directly from the lake. The design includes a barge fitted with electric water pumps, a generator, special microalgae filters, and electric trolling motors. The boat will travel around the shoreline of the lake, because that’s where most of the microalgae grow. As it moves through the water at 2.2 mph, the pumps bring 2400 gallons per minutes of lake water into the filters where most of the microalgae is captured. The cleaned water is returned to the lake. The harvested microalgae are air dried on-shore and used as a biofuel to produce carbon-neutral energy.