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Engineering team develops new model to predict algae growth

The research has the potential to increase algae production — and that could lead to cleaner water supplies.

wastewater plant rendering

Researchers hope to predict and promote algae growth at wastewater treatment plants such as this one to purify water sources.

Oct. 7, 2020

Students and faculty from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Civil and Environmental Engineering are conducting research that could help wastewater plant operators boost algae growth at treatment plants.

Algae is known to absorb pollutants such as prescription drugs, cosmetics, cleaners and other harmful chemicals that seep into our drinking water. While clean water is primarily an environmental engineering problem, Feng Feng, a post-doctoral fellow in EECS, said the team’s computer model can make valuable predictions that go beyond current experiments.

“It’s much more promising than current strategies used to purify water,” Feng said.

The group has already tested the models in an outdoor setting using water from the city of Columbia’s wastewater treatment facility. They will continue to look at additional factors impacting growth.

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