"Environment" research area

Novel Algae Bioreactor for the Removal of Manganese and Sulfate from Water

Primary Investigator - Satoshi IshiiPrimary InvestigatorSatoshi Ishii
Co-InvestigatorsCara Santelli
Industry PartnersBarr Engineering
Award Type: Seed Grant - Graduate Research Scholar

Problem: High levels of manganese and sulfate are found in groundwater and surface water throughout Minnesota. These elements can cause aesthetic problems in drinking water, such as odor and poor taste. At excessive levels, they can also have adverse health effects for humans. Current filtration techniques for manganese and sulfate are expensive and require careful maintenance.

Solution: At Onneto Yu-no-taki waterfall in Japan, microorganisms precipitate manganese and sulfate out of the water simultaneously with the help of algae, which supplies organic carbon. This phenomenon inspired MnDRIVE researcher Satoshi Ishii to design a bioreactor that mimics the biofilm of algae, manganese-oxidizing microbes, sulfate-reducing bacteria and iron-reducing bacteria found at the waterfall site for sulfate and manganese remediation in Minnesota. 

Impact: This bioreactor may provide a more cost-effective and lower maintenance solution to manganese and sulfate removal from Minnesota waters, which boosts opportunities for industries and water professionals in the state.

Onneto-Yu-no-taki waterfall
The black color of the Onneto-Yu-no-taki waterfall comes from the precipitates of Mn oxides.