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Hopewell launched the algae demonstration project in November. Until at least September, algae will be used to clean wastewater from nitrogen instead of conventionally engineered solutions. This new technology is a more cost-saving, green approach to nutrient removal, which results in cleaner waters in Virginia’s rivers and in the Chesapeake Bay.
Excess nitrogen in the plant’s discharge is one of the main challenges of wastewater treatment, and the regional plant is currently not designed to remove nitrogen. Plant director Mark Haley estimates that it would cost $90 million to upgrade the plant with conventional solutions. “This would result in higher sewer rates for the citizens and a higher cost for the local industries,” Haley said.
But the algae project could even generate a profit – because algae creates a residue which can be used to produce biofuel and green coal.
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