On 30 July, the MS Wissenschaft, which has been travelling for many years as an exhibition ship as part of the Science Years, took off in Münster. In the Science Year Bioeconomy, a joint exhibit of the Bioeconomy Science Center and IBG-2: Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, is on board. It illustrates how algae can be used to purify wastewater and recover valuable nutrients.
Since 2002, the exhibition ship MS Wissenschaft has been on its way on German and Austrian inland waterways during the summer months. Interactive exhibits on the topic of the respective science year are on display.
The tour within the framework of the Science Year 2020/21 Bioeconomy started on 30 July in Münster. Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) opened the exhibition. "I am very pleased that this year, too, the motto for MS science is 'Cast off'," she said.
During the subsequent tour, Dr. Christina Kuchendorf (IBG-2/BioSC) presented the exhibit "Clean water through algae". In the form of a pinball machine, the so-called AlgalTurfScrubbing is presented, in which waste water flows over a lawn of algae and is cleaned in the process. In the pinball exhibit, blue and green balls representing water and nutrients (e.g. phosphate) are directed onto a surface representing an algae lawn. The water balls continue to flow, the nutrient balls are magnetically held on the surface and can be collected with a scraper.
In real AlgalTurfScrubbing, the algae use the phosphate, nitrate and other nutrients from the water to grow. About every 10 days they are harvested and the algae biomass is spread on fields instead of mineral fertilizers. In this way the nutrients are to be returned to a cycle instead of ending up in sewage sludge or in waters where they are no longer usable or even harmful to the environment. AlgalTurfScrubbing is simple, inexpensive and applicable in many places.
The MS Wissenschaft is travelling until 17 October 2020. In 2021 there will be a second tour on the bioeconomy. More information and the tour schedule can be found at https://ms-wissenschaft.de/. More information about water purification with algae can be found at https://blogs.fz-juelich.de/biooekonomie/2020/07/30/naehrstoffrecycling-mit-algen-der-algenflipper-auf-der-ms-wissenschaft/.