A San Diego-based tech startup has come up with an innovative route to opposed destructive algae blooms and purify lake water, whilst also putting the removed algae to good employ: attaining shoes.
Algae blooms are thick layers of algae that cover a water surface, choking off oxygen for other marine life and making thewaterundrinkable. Many things contribute to algae buds, from pollution and fertilizer runoff to climate change increasing water temperatures.
Algae grows quickly when it has plenty of nutrients, but it doesnt live very long. A growth spurt, or bloom, is followed by a high concentration of dead and dying algae that can turn toxic, resulting in mass die-offs of other marine life.
So, all in all, they are not good. Enter Bloom, a US-based company that harvests these algae buds to create a foam that works particularly well in building footwear.
To utilize the algae, Bloom employs mobile harvesters that pump through the algae-heavy water, adding a water-resistant coagulant to induce the algae clump together. Air bubbles push these clumps to the surface of the water in the harvesting tank, allowing it to be skimmed off. The water is then filtered and pumped back into the lagoon or river that it came from.
The harvested algae is then taken to one of Blooms facilities, where they squeeze all the water out and dry it use a solar-powered process. Once dried, the algae biomass is be included with other components to create a polymer.
Currently, Bloom has harvesting divisions in Missippi, Alabama, and around China, including Lake Taihu, a large freshwater lake in the Yangtze Delta plain, famous for its algae blooms. The lake is supposed to provide around 30 million people with fresh water, but low pollution regulations meanit is instead a hotbed for algae explosions. In 2007, nearly one-third of the lake was covered and the Chinese government had to shut down water collect as it wasnt safe.
Bloom has been using their harvesting units there for two years, removing millions of pounds of algae. Now, they have teamed up with UK-based footwear company VivoBarefoot to create an amphibious shoe use the algae biomass foam from the lake.
According to the two companies, each pair of shoes will help recirculate 215 liters( 57 gallons) of clean water back into its natural habitat and stop around 40 balloons worth of CO 2 from being released into the atmosphere. The shoes will be available to buy this summer.
“We’ve already got more algae than we’ll ever need, ” Bloom founder Rob Falken told Fast Companylast year. “In China, Lake Taihu could make enough algae for us to make a pair of shoes for every man, girl, and child on this planet.”