RIT Prof’s Reputation in Waste Reaches Trump Organization
by James Goodman (Democrat & Chronicle) Jeffrey Lodge is finding a niche at Rochester Institute of Technology as a go-to guy for finding new uses for waste.
An associate professor of biological sciences, Lodge knows what it takes to break down a wide range of wastes and how to maximize their reuse.
Lodge’s work using algae to clean wastewater — one of his passions — has attracted the attention of RIT alum Ed Russo, who has handled environmental issues for billionaire mogul Donald Trump’s golf courses and last summer contacted Lodge to enlist his expertise.
At RIT, Lodge is now guiding graduate student Rebecca Clontz in the rather unusual venture of finding new uses for coffee grounds that she collected from five coffeehouses on the RIT campus.
“I am trying to deal with waste in ways that can reduce the amount — and use it for making fuels,” said Lodge.
Russo wants the Lodge-Ogut team to help clean sewage wastewater in the Miami area by using algae to absorb contaminants so that it might be used instead of more expensive drinking water to keep a public golf course — the Crandon Park Golf Course — green. The course would be managed through Trump Endeavor LLC.
The wastewater that would be treated by the algae would have already gone through most of the cleansing processes at the sewage treatment plant. Algae in a 20,000-gallon tank next to the plant would provide additional cleaning. If all goes according to plan, the treated water would be suitable for use on the Crandon course, which uses about 285,000 gallons of water a day.
Lodge and Ogut have successfully tried what they want to do in Florida on a small scale at the Webster Wastewater Treatment Plant in 2012.
Clontz also has been testing how well an algae solution absorbs phosphorus, nitrogen and other contaminants from whey, a byproduct of yogurt and cheese production.
Reduction of these contaminants makes disposal of whey cheaper. And biofuel can be made from the fats — or lipids — that can be extracted from the algae, which grows by absorbing these contaminants.
Lodge also has experimented with using algae to clean wastewater produced in bagel and tofu production.
Still, David Kalin, chief plant operator for the Webster plant, said that while the algae treatment worked on a small scale, he questioned how feasible it would be on a large-scale basis. Unlike traditional sewage treatment, algae tanks need to be shallow for the sunlight to help grow the algae and the treatment takes much longer.
Traditional sewage treatment plants are deep and wide. In processing 5 million gallons of sewage a day, the Webster plant uses three concrete tanks — each 8 feet deep, 100 feet long and 20 feet wide. READ MORE and MORE