Foam pads used for oil spills to be tested for algae cleanup

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Testing new foam pads to cleanup algae in SWFL. Photo credit: Scott Smith

A technology developed to assist in cleanup during the BP oil spill of 2010 is being tested for blue-green algae cleanup in Southwest Florida.

The company that developed the test came up with special “Open Cell Foam” pads to help soak up oil from water during the spill, and they hope it can be used in a similar fashion for removing algae.

The foam pads work by soaking up floating debris like a paper towel and then can be rung out mechanically or by hand.

Testing new foam pads to cleanup algae in SWFL. Photo credit: Scott Smith

Sea and Shoreline Aquatic Restoration says this could be a low-cost tool homeowners can use without having to go through extensive permitting.

The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP), AquaFlex® Holdings LLC, Sea & Shoreline and the Calusa Waterkeeper all met for the rapid response demo Friday morning.

They tested AquaFlex Open-Cell rolls, mats and other configurations to decide the best design for removal and detection of the cyanobacteria and nutrient pollution from excess nitrogen and phosphorus in our waterways.

“Long-term, the goal is to prevent these algae outbreaks. You want to remove excess nutrients,” said inventor Scott Smith. “This has already been proven to remove excess phosphorus. What we are here to do is look at nitrates and removing and detecting the toxic micro-systems in the algae itself.”

Once the algae is absorbed by the pads, it’ll be taken to a waste energy plant to create electricity with it.

After evaluating the demo, scientists are hoping to get funding for a larger-scale study.

Smith hopes to stop this domino effect. He’ll be studying this algae over the next week to create a plan moving forward. The company hopes to secure $65,000 from Lee County to pay for clean up.

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