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Water-Related News

FIT Researchers: Biochar may help fight against harmful algal blooms

Toufiq Reza, biomedical and chemical engineering and sciences assistant professor, and Spencer Fire, ocean engineering and marine sciences assistant professor, have collaborated in researching mitigation and control of harmful algal blooms. Their goal is to utilize locally produced low-cost sustainable biochar to control harmful algal blooms in St. Lucie Estuary, Indian River Lagoon, Tampa Bay Estuary and Sarasota Bay.

The biochar, a porous carbon material, is created using waste biomass, such as agricultural wastes, as well as sargassum, a floating, seaweed algae that has been in the news recently for overtaking beaches in South Florida and Mexico. Using a high-temperature retort—like a furnace—the waste is turned into biochar, which would be then spread across the lagoon water. As with the activated carbon in a Brita or PUR water filter, the biochar would absorb the toxins in the water, and ultimately fall to the bottom, trapping the toxins in the process.

"Our goal is to use that biochar to remove toxins from different harmful algal blooms like red tide, pyrodinium, and blue-green algae" Reza said. "So far, the result has been amazing."