Experiment wants to fight red tide without chemicals

A lab is conducting studies to make fighting red tide without chemicals a reality in Southwest Florida.

At Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota County, the goal is to have an entire arsenal of methods to combat harmful algal blooms, including red tide. This is just one tool to make that happen.

The trailer parked at Mote’s Aquaculture Research Park is blazing the trail for red tide research.

Michael Crosby is the President and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory. “We’re developing the new technologies that are going to be deployed in the future to decrease the impacts of red tide, to our environment, to our economy and to our quality of life here in Florida,” said Crosby.

It is referred to as the Ozonix Mobile Water Treatment Unit and its job is to treat polluted water. Steve McKenzie is the lead technician with Prescott Clean Water.

“It’s similar to a chlorinator, but we don’t add any chlorine, we don’t add any chemicals other than the oxygen that’s in the air and electricity. That’s it, completely chemical-free,” McKenzie. This technology isn’t actually new.

“It was used for oil and gas fracking water, some of the most polluted and highly regulated water in the world. We’ve been working with ozone in agricultural situations, swine farms, cleaning those swine lagoons,” said McKenzie.

From those swine lagoons to their lab tanks, these researchers believe this could be a promising tool. “When you see the living shrimp remaining in the tanks, the living clams remaining in the tanks that have been exposed to this technology, it’s denatured, the toxin, it’s killed the red tide, those organisms are still alive. That’s what we want to,” Crosby said.

The tool is nearly ready for field testing but, Mote and its partners want to make sure they perform more lab tests to make sure they won’t be doing more harm than good to the environment.

Once it is ready, the goal is to scale up that technology for it to be used in canals, bays, or offshore.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
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