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Water Today Title July 4, 2020

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Toxic algae - The Barley Prize


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WaterToday sent a series of questions to the four finalists for the Everglades Foundation's George Barley Water Prize: Wetsus, Greenwater Solution, University of Idaho and Leetown Science Center (USGS) - as well as first runner up, ZeroPhos. A late entry from Nanjing University in Nanjing, ZeroPhos proposed a technology based on lanthanum, a rare earth with remarkable properties.

Zerophos Ė Yangyang Zhang (First Runner Up)

1. Given the size of some of the bodies of water (lake Erie for instance), once you meet the prizes expectation of how much water to filter, is your technology/method scalable to much larger amounts of water being cleaned?

Yes, it is possible. However, different configuration and new setups were to be expected. And there is always the issue with cost. We are still working on it, different coagulation and filtration process need to be designed to treat billions gallon water per day.

2. Do you think that if the problem isnít solved first, fertilizer being used for instance, does it really help to clean the water once?

Even if we stop using phosphorus right now, we still need to clean the water due to those already released phosphorus. We need to work on every possible angles. The best approach is to close the phosphorus loop from human perspective, to capture phosphorus discharged by us and then recover it.

3. Given the now increasing amounts of pfoas, chemical pollutions, and new dangers being chronicled at an almost daily pace, is your method/technology adaptable to filtering other contaminants easily?

Yes, our technology could also filter some contaminants of emerging concern, but not with high efficiency, since our technology was designed for phosphorus removal. The core of our technology is our nanocomposites, if we use different nanocomposites, we could also efficiently remove this contaminants.

4. When you have a company doing its daily revenue generation, does your situation mean that a special team has been developed just to win this prize? Some of the participants so far have said money to develop was a challenge.

Money is always a challenge. Because we are from a University, and we also have a company. One of my research interest is phosphorus removal and recovery, so this is what we do. We have dedicated many hours and money for the prize, and it was worthwhile.

5. Do you think you should win? And if you do, what would you use the prize money for?

I think if we push forward, to improve our technology, we have a chance to win. We are currently doing it, and we have positive results already. As for the prize money, honestly, we have no clue. maybe we could use it for research, to help our company to get our technology to the world.

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