Funded Projects

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Funded Projects

Nanobubbles-enabled foam fractionation for efficient removal of algae and algogenic pollutants 

  • Project Principal Investigator: Wen Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE
  • Institution: New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Location: Newark, NJ
  • Total Funding: $200,000
  • Project Period: November 2023 - October 2024
  • Project Summary: This project will evaluate and validate the technical and economic viability of foam fractionation for removing freshwater algae using air nanobubbles to produce bubble foam (a foamy structure of tiny bubbles usually stabilized by surfactants or surface-active agents and thus exhibits high surface areas and stability in water). The produced foam will adsorb water pollutants including harmful algal cells and their toxic metabolites via a foam fractionation separation process. There are only a few limited studies that report the use of nanobubbles in foam fractionation for algal separation and algogenic pollutant removal, despite the studies for other pollution remediation (e.g., PFAS) and biomolecular separation. The goals of this project are 1. To investigate different variables including surfactant types, on the effectiveness of algal separation, 2. Compare the algal separation efficiencies of nano-bubbles with and without surfactants on algogenic pollutants and 3. Investigate the separation mechanisms and optimization of removal kinetics. This project will support Ph.D. student, Yihan Zhang, and a postdoc researcher to work with the PI, Dr. Wen Zhang.


Developing a highly selective molecular tool for Microcystis aeruginosa to inhibit the production of microcystin from harmful algal blooms

  • Project Principal Investigator: Scott Hamilton-Brehm, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Southern Illinois University
  • Location: Carbondale, IL
  • Total Funding: $194,083
  • Project Period: November 2023 - October 2024
  • Project Summary: Antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) technology can be leveraged for targeted knockdown of undesirable mRNA gene products, with limited environmental disturbance. The use of exogenous ASOs has been well described in model prokaryotic organisms such as E. coli, S. aureus, and Pseudomonas sp., but ASO effectiveness on cyanobacteria is unknown. This project will study the use of ASOs to target and stop the production of the toxin microcystin by cyanobacteria at the molecular level. The objectives of this study are: 1. Develop an enhanced molecular delivery system for ASO’s that selectively targets Microcystis aeruginosa, 2. Evaluate the effectiveness of the molecular delivery system into M. aeruginosa cells in scaling culture volumes, 3. Evaluate environmental impact of the molecular delivery system on microbial, phytoplankton, and zooplankton communities.


Effective treatment concentrations of TAML®/H2O2 on Karenia brevis and brevetoxin removal 

  • Project Principal Investigator: Terrence Collins, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Carnegie Mellon University
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Total Funding: $178,981
  • Project Period: November 2023 - October 2024
  • Project Summary: TAML®/H2O2 has already been shown to degrade a wide variety of persistent water contaminants, including cyanotoxins and other micropollutants (MPs). Additionally, TAML®/H2O2 decays in use and does not induce adverse effects on zebrafish and mice. It is hypothesized that TAML®/H2O2 will inactivate Karenia brevis cells as well as destroy waterborne brevetoxins as both are vulnerable to oxidation. This project aims to perform Tier 1 and Tier 2 testing to determine if TAML®/H2O2 is effective for controlling K. brevis cells and associated brevetoxins and if treatment is ecologically safe for marine and estuarine species. The objectives are: 1. Determine the effective treatment concentrations and conditions using 2.8 L Fernbach flasks, 2. Find the relationship between treatment concentration and duration to cell number and toxin concentration, 3. Test the chosen treatment condition at a larger scale, using 2,000 L mesocosms, 4. Run EPA-certified acute toxicity tests using chosen treatment conditions at Marinco Bioassay Laboratory.


Targeted Destruction of Harmful Algal Blooms using Hybrid Materials for Flocculation, Sinking and Toxin Mitigation

  • Project Principal Investigator: Vijay John, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Tulane University
  • Location: New Orleans, LA
  • Total Funding: $150,000
  • Project Period: November 2023 - October 2024
  • Project Summary:  Modified clay is a well-established technology of flocculation and sinking of HABs and activated carbon is known to remove toxins from the water column. This project proposes to encapsulate algaecide into widely available natural clay nanotubes known as halloysites and coat the halloysites in carbon. This targeted destruction with flocculate and kill HABs, while also reducing toxin exposure to off target organisms. The halloysites have been shown to flocculate and sink Karenia brevis from the water column through previously funded research. This work will expand to add the carbon and algaecide to the technology and test this technology on the freshwater HAB species, Microcystis aeruginosa. The objectives of this study are: 1. Develop the hybrid system of HNT nanotubes with attached algaecide and a coating of carbon, 2. Identify the effective dose of the algaecide filled nanotubes on M. aeruginosa and K. brevis by conducting flocculation and settling studies, scaling up from 20 ml, 1-L, to 80-L systems, 3. Assess the efficacy of the material for removal and degradation of the algae and toxins by measuring toxins (ELISA), measuring photosynthetic efficiency (PAM fluorometry), cell abundance/morphology (microscope/FlowCam), and cell viability (Sytox/Neutral red assay), and 4. Test the technology on field samples of a Microcystis bloom. This system will involve flocculation, sinking and targeted destruction of harmful algae with minimal off-target impact potentially generated by both the algaecide and the generated toxin. 


Mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms and Breakdown of Microcystin Using Electric Fields: Mesoscale Validation and Demonstration

  • Project Principal Investigator: Sudhir Sastry, Ph.D.
  • Institution: The Ohio State University
  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • Total Funding: $140,000
  • Project Period: November 2023 - October 2024
  • Project Summary: Moderate Electric Field (MEF) technology has a history in food processing as it uses less than 1,000 volts per centimeter to inactivate bacteria by causing pores in their cell membranes. This project will test the efficacy and scalability of using MEF combined with microcystin-degrading bacteria, Sphingomonas sp. to a) inactivate cyanobacteria; and b) to degrade microcystin. The combined technology will be tested using mesocosms of bloom-affected lake water. Additionally, the microbial community will be analyzed pre and post-treatment to assess how the technology affects non-targeted species. 

NeroPure BNE against Microcystis aeruginosa

  • Industry: NeroPure LLC
  • Location: Redkey, IN
  • Total Funding: $56,000
  • Project Period: November 2023 - October 2024
  • Project Summary: NeroPure LLC. will be conducting mesocosm trials with Mote Marine Laboratory to study the efficacy of their proprietary liquid all-natural water restoration solution, NeroPure BNE. The study will consist of product application to sourced water with high cyanobacteria populations and toxins present to measure the product's impact in improving the overall ecology of the water system as well as the product's ability to manage high nutrient loads.  The mesocosm trials will measure the cyanobacteria concentrations, toxins, and nutrients after NeroPure BNE application.  The mode of action of NeroPure BNE on the microbial community composition will also be studied. The replicate trial experiment will help validate NeroPure BNE as an all-natural alternative solution to manage adverse impacts of eutrophication and the detrimental effects of high concentration cyanobacteria blooms.