Al­gae op­er­a­tion await­ing grant award news

Equip­ment to be in­stalled in the fall


jbellmyer@ ce­cil­whig. com

— Progress is be­ing made on the Susque­hanna Al­gal Re­me­di­a­tion Project in Ma­rina Park that could lead to a cleaner Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

Jay Diedzic, pres­i­dent of Black­rock Al­gae LLC, said the Ch­e­sa­peake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund grant awards will be an­nounced by July 1 and will sig­nal the start of a three- year pi­lot project lo­cated in Port De­posit’s pop­u­lar park.

Un­til this year the trust only had $ 10 mil­lion to dis­trib­ute, ac­cord­ing to Diedzic. That money came from sev­eral Mary­land pro­grams, in­clud­ing the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay li­cense plates.

“But Gov. Larry Ho­gan raised the amount of money in the pot,” Diedzic said, adding Black­rock Al­gae’s re­quest is for $ 5 mil­lion of the $ 50 mil­lion fund. “This cov­ers ever ything for the three years.”

Ac­cord­ing to Diedzic, oper­a­tions will have min­i­mal cost com­pared to con­struc­tion.

“We’d have peo­ple check­ing on it daily, tak­ing sam­ples to op­ti­mize,” he said.

Op­er­at­ing just 240 days each year, Diedzic said the plant would rest in the win­ter and no wa­ter can be drawn from the river dur­ing shad spawn­ing sea­son.

Mean­while, Diedzic and Port De­posit town ad­min­is­tra­tor Vicky Rinker­man par­tic­i­pated in a per­mit­ting con­sor­tium in An­napo­lis on Wed­nes­day. At the ta­ble were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment, Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and the U. S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers.

“With all the con­ver­sa­tions we’ve had with all th­ese agen­cies ... they’ve been very sup­port­ive,” Diedzic said.

The per­mit­ting phase alone will take a year, he said.

Be­tween the in­take and the dis­charge of the wa­ter Black­rock Al­gae brings into its sys­tem — to be con­structed near the waste­water treat­ment plant — al­gae will be in­tro­duced.

“Al­gae loves to clean stuff,” said Sam A. Man­ning, a mem­ber of their ad­vi­sor y board, said, not­ing the process al­lows the al­gae in col­lec­tion tanks to re­move sed­i­ment, ni­tro­gen and phos­pho­rous. “And we re­turn it ( to the river) clean and more oxy­genated.”

While not part of the Port De­posit plans, Man­ning said Old Do­min­ion Univer­sity in Nor­folk, Va., has a project that runs the ef flu­ent from waste­water treat­ment plants through the same sys­tem make the dis­charge that much cleaner.

“In the fu­ture, we’d like to hook it to the waste­water treat­ment plant,” Diedzic said, not­ing the op­er­a­tion is on less than half an acre near the county- op­er­ated plant.

Among the ma­jor dif­fer­ences with this project is that the screens will be built ver­ti­cally rather than hor­i­zon­tal to al­low for more growth on a smaller foot­print. Diedzic said this project will have tall tanks on land, but on plat­forms to ac­knowl­edge the town’s propen­sity for flood­ing.

Rinker­man said the project would take up ver y lit­tle space in the park, which is pop­u­lar with an­glers.

“It’s to the south end of the waste­water treat­ment plant, just enough area for them to do the study,” she said, not­ing the town got as­sur­ances from the com­pany that its project would not hin­der park oper­a­tions.

Once the sys­tem is run­ning, there would be tweaks to ad­just flow and tests of other tech­nolo­gies, which could be in­tro­duced at a later time,


Man­ning said.

“We’re look­ing at dif­fer­ent pul­sa­tions and the velocity of the wa­ter,” he said. “Even light­ing to stim­u­late growth at night.”

Once the three- year pi­lot is com­plete, there’s the pos­si­bil­ity that Port De­posit could take over the use of the dried al­gae and sell it for such things as com­post, fer­til­izer or bio- fuel pro­duc­tion.

“It’s an evolv­ing tech­nol­ogy,” Rinker­man said. “We have to look at all the ways to use this har vested al­gae.”

Ac­cord­ing to All About Al­gae, there are cur­rently more than 50 re­search projects and at least 100 com­pa­nies work­ing to­ward mak­ing al­gae a mar­ketable com­mod­ity. In the United States alone, more than $ 1 bil­lion has been in­vested in re­search and de­vel­op­ment, call­ing it a po­ten­tial tril­lion dol­lar mar­ket.

“We could turn it into paraf­fin and sell it to re­finer­ies,” Diedzic added, not­ing that the paraf­fin has mul­ti­ple ap­pli­ca­tions from bio- fuel to emol­lients in skin care prod­ucts. “We don’t know what type of al­gae we’ll get. Each lo­ca­tion is site spe­cific.”


Wil­liam and Mary Univer­sity” with “the Col­lege of Wil­liam and Mary

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