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SIU receives startup grant to study algae blooms

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Southern Illinois University researchers are working on a project that will help keep the campus lake clean.

The funding from this project came from a startup grant from the U.S. EPA. That grant is worth $25,000.

Over the last 10 years, Campus Lake has seen an algae bloom issue two to three times.

The algae in the water can be toxic to humans.

SIU Assistant Professor Dr. Jia Lau said they want to protect public health and increase recreation at the campus lake.

That’s why student researchers and professors say it’s so important to mitigate the algae bloom.

The algae bloom occurs when phosphate seeps into the water. That phosphate is in fertilizer that is applied near the lake. Warmer temperatures and humidity also play a role.

“So we are using, actually, some nanomaterials. This nanomaterials can also be active on the solar light,” said Lau.

Those nanomaterials are made up of both Iron and titanium. Those materials will be put in a floating device that will be placed on the lake to kill the algae bloom.

The lake has restricted fishing and swimming due to toxins that may cause skin rashes.

But Dr. Liu wanted to give credit to all hands on deck.

She said several students in different departments, including engineering; geography and chemistry, are offering to help with the project.

The research team will also be monitoring the Carbondale reservoir for the algae bloom.

The first phase of the work began in December 2020 and will run through November 2021.

The university could win another grant worth $100,000 if they discover a way to prevent algae blooms in real-world situations.

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