Clean Water Machine
The University of Idaho Clean Water Machine Team is competing with other teams for a huge opportunity to solve one of the world's most wicked water problems. Ten teams are competing in the Stage 3 Pilot Study Challenge of the four-stage 10 million dollar Everglades Foundation George Barley Prize to show the world innovative solutions to the serious water pollution problem of phosphorus.
Their overall goal is the removal and recovery of nutrients from agricultural drainage canals, storm-water and point sources such as municipal water treatment plants. Cleaning the water will prevent harmful algae blooms in areas such as the Great Lakes, the Florida Everglades and across the globe. There are thousands of toxic algae impacted water bodies worldwide. The other competitors in the Pilot Stage are from four countries including teams from Nanjing University, the University of Waterloo, universities in the Netherlands working with WETSUS-the EU Water Center, the USGS and several companies. The pilot study ends in late May.
Martin Baker and Greg Moller standing on each side of their Clean Water Machine.
The Clean Water Machine approach addresses water quality, climate change and food security for the future. Biochar recovery makes the overall water treatment and farm soil use a carbon-negative process, a boost for the planet.
The foundation technology of the University of Idaho Clean Water Machine is called reactive filtration, a process modeled on how nature cleans water. With recent commercialization, U of I reactive filtration is currently treating billions of gallons of water each day across the globe. In the latest Barley Prize version of the technology, the team adds biochar, a charcoal made from agricultural or forestry waste, to remove the nutrients and recycle the biochar fertilizer by-product to sequester carbon in farmers fields. The recovered biochar, upcycled with the phosphorus removed from the polluted water, addresses the need for a sustainable phosphorus supply to feed a growing global population.