Iowa State University technology that improves the efficiency of wastewater reclamation is catching the attention of small communities across the state. The system uses vertical conveyor belts which revolve in a continual loop, cycling through the wastewater and air as multiple layers of algae grow on them. The algae absorbs phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater along with carbon dioxide from the air. Conventional methods use a bacterial process that results in sludge with a foul smell and disposal issues. Algae produced from this technique can be re-purposed to be used as an environmentally friendly fertilizer. New regulations from the state regarding the removal of harmful nutrients in the water are requiring cities to update their facilities at costs as high as $5 million. This new technology may serve as a more economically feasible way for the nearly 500 Iowa towns affected by state’s new requirements.
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