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Lone Star students get algae pond on campus

July 24, 2013

Erik Patton, a recent graduate of LSC-Montgomery, and Josh Bond, a current student in the college’s biotechnology program, work on the recently donated open pond.

Erik Patton, a recent graduate of LSC-Montgomery, and Josh Bond, a current student in the college’s biotechnology program, work on the recently donated open pond.

YourHoustonNews.com reports that Lone Star College-Montgomery, in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands has received a donation of $27,000 to build an open pond on campus to allow students to grow large amounts of algae that will be used to research novel agricultural techniques for water remediation and agricultural research. The donation was made by David Maniatis, community developer for Aperion, a property development company based in Arizona that donated $82,000 to LSC-Montgomery’s Biotechnology Institute in 2012.

Aperion and LSC-Montgomery’s Biotechnology Institute teamed up early last year to seek biological processes for water treatment and waste remediation for Rio West, a developing community outside of Albuquerque, N.M., that hopes to be the first-ever environmentally, economically and socially sustainable master-planned community in the United States.

LSC-Montgomery students have been working to develop new techniques for desalinization of the community’s 65 million acre-feet of water in an aquifer beneath the site. “This type of pond is a cost-effective way to grow large amounts of algae, expanding our water remediation efforts even further,” said Danny Kainer, director of the college’s Biotechnology Institute. “The four different cells (in the pond) will allow side-by-side comparisons of different experimental conditions and provide even more data to allow us to increase production from the lab scale to the pilot scale.”

Matthew Huber, founder and biological oceanographer of Green Reactions LLC, a sustainable research and development company, will oversee the pond’s construction and installation. “If these students continue to make good choices and use some of these resources, they’ll be the next drivers of this industry,” Huber said.

Aperion’s donation to LSC-Montgomery’s Biotechnology Institute in 2012 allowed for a revamp of the college’s existing greenhouse; made a scanning electron microscope donated by Rice University more usable; and provided a flow cytometer and an automated cell counter, analytical instruments in the industry that aid students in monitoring algal growth patterns.

According to Kainer, the students have maintained their biological remediation research, already characterizing how different types of algae react to the brackish aquifer water. Their next objective is to optimize culture conditions that will enable the aquifer water to be used as a water source to promote large-scale algal growth, aquaponics, and aquaculture.

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