We’ll soon read the annual news release from government telling us which lakes we shouldn’t be swimming in because of blue-green algae. Just like clockwork, the reports will begin to come out in late July and carry through to the end of fall.
That is all about to change with the introduction of oxygen micro bubbles injected into the polluted water.
The resort town of Mittersheim in France had always relied on Lac Vert to bring in tourists and campers to support the region but 3 years earlier, the French government announced that Lac Vert was no longer safe for any activities at all. Cyanobacteria had grown to infect the entire lake and the consequences for anyone choosing to swim in or drink the water could include hospitalization.
Calls were made by the town council to other regions that were experiencing the same issues and through an ever widening net, the council discovered what they believed might solve their problems and bring the region back to its former status as a summertime recreational playground.
Thanks to advancements made in the science of nanotechnology and after years of real-world trials, scientists out of Turkey had proven that by entraining atmospheric oxygen micro-bubbles that are created with membranes made of up to 21 different ingredients, the ravages associated with cyanobacteria are easily and quickly reversed.
Here is how it works.
At the nano level (between 1 & 100 nanometers in size – 1 nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter)), a wide and disparate series of ingredients are joined together to create a new type of material never before seen. The ingredients are changed for each type of membrane to achieve different objectives but can include lignin, aluminum, polyvinyl chloride, zinc and zirconium, etc. When all of these materials are joined together at the molecular level, the resulting material provides just enough porosity to allow oxygen to penetrate through the membrane into the fluid outside of the membrane and to create micro-bubbles.
The advantage of micro-bubbles is that unlike macro bubbles which are forced to the surface by water pressure and then disappear into the atmosphere, micro-bubbles remain suspended in the water and available for naturally occurring bacteria and other aquatic life to consume for up to 30 days.
Aerobic bacteria are the good guys in this story. Unlike Anaerobic bacteria which thrive in low oxygen environments and create the foul odour you will have noticed in stagnant ponds which smell like rotten eggs; Aerobic bacteria thrive in a highly oxygenated environment.
These Aerobic bacteria require only 3 things to thrive. A medium in which to swim, a plentiful source of food to convert and they need oxygen. If oxygen is not readily available, the aerobic bacteria will only grow their family size to the extent of the resource available to them. Lots of oxygen and food and their population will explode.
As oxygen microbubbles are transferred into the contaminated water, the number of healthy, hungry organisms will increase exponentially by doubling their population approximately every 20 minutes. In a single day, a single naturally-occurring aerobic bacterium can become a very large colony with a stunning population of 5 sextillion bacteria. 5 sextillion is 22 numbers long.
These bacteria are eager to consume the potassium and nitrates which the algae thrive on and in a short while, the contaminants which support cyanobacteria are eliminated. As contaminant levels drop, the colonies of aerobic bacteria die off until such time that concentrations once again rise.
The trial at Lac Vert was off-the-scale successful with contaminant levels dropping from >22,000 ppm to 400 – 600 ppm in just a few weeks and with that the cyanobacteria began to die off and the area of the test was deemed to be safe to swim in once again.
The program has been such a success that the French government has now offered to pay up to 80% of the cost of remediation when this membrane technology is being used for these same issues.
While other micro bubble equipment has been available for some time, this nanotechnology breakthrough will cost up to 50% less to purchase and uses far less energy as well.
This is just another example of why the field of nanotechnology will shake up our world!