News UMD algal flow technology cleans and increases oxygen content of the water while producing sustainable energy
The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) was recently awarded an American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) Award of Excellence for Environmental Mitigation for a demonstration project with the University of Maryland (UMD) that removes excess nutrient pollution and increases oxygen content in the Baltimore Harbor. The algal flow-way technology (AFT) is a linear raceway constructed at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore’s Dundalk Marine Terminal, located on the Patapsco River, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. The AFT pumps water from the Patapsco River onto the raceway, which flows over a surface designed to enhance algal growth. As the algae grows, it cleans and oxygenates the water prior to its return to the river, while producing algae that is used to power a small fuel cell.
“This innovative project highlights the importance of good partners like UMD and the U.S. Maritime Administration, who share the mutual goal of improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Bill Richardson, MDOT MPA general manager of safety, environment, and risk management. “We thank AAPA for this recognition and look forward to instituting other environmental initiatives at the Port of Baltimore.”
Stephanie Lansing, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science & Technology (ENST) with the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources (AGNR) at UMD, is currently leading this project to explore ways to actively reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay while increasing the overall sustainability of the Port. Peter May, assistant research professor, and Patrick Kangas, associate professor, both also of ENST, built the algal turf scrubber (ATS) treatment system using algae as a filtration system, resulting in excess nutrients being removed from the water. Nutrient pollution causes the water to be low in oxygen, killing the wildlife and throwing off the natural ecosystem.