New algae biofuel pilot project at the Rockaway Wastewater treatment plant

December 5, 2010


The DEP announced in November that a new pilot project that will convert algae into biofuel will take place in the Rockaway Wastewater treatment plant.  The project is a joint effort between the DEP, the University of Arkansas, and two private environmental firms and it will cost the city $387,000. A device called an Algal Turf Scrubber was built at the Wastewater Treatment Plant in Queens that consists of two 350-foot metal troughs that run treated wastewater which contains nitrogen and phosphorus to promote algae growth. Algae grows by photosynthesis on the Algal Turf Scrubber and then is harvested and processed into butanol, a high quality fuel that can be put right into a gas tank. Usually it takes 10-14 days for sufficient algae growth to occur, and then algaeis will be removed and sent to the chemical engineering department at the University of Arkansas, where it is converted to biofuel.

 Jamaica Bay has been losing great amounts of its wetland over the last 70 years and the algae biofuel project is part of the Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan. “Technologies like this are at the cutting edge of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC vision of a greener, greater New York.” says Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway.


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