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Zebra Mussel Research Set to Launch at  NDSU’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineeringzebra mussel

The Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at North Dakota State University plans to expand its expertise in marine coatings into a new area. With the group’s previous success using bacteria, algae and barnacles, researchers plan to investigate new coatings and materials to prevent freshwater pests from attaching and growing on docks, boats, and other structures. Currently in its initial stages, CNSE scientists are planning to evaluate how their research might be applied to zebra mussels.

The spread of zebra mussels is primarily blamed on unsuspecting boat owners transporting them from one body of water to another. The mussels wreak environmental havoc by attaching themselves to boats, docks, and sandy lake bottoms. The are also capable of shutting down water treatment plants by clogging intake screens and pipes.

The studies at NDSU are particularly relevant as states in the Great Lakes and Upper Missouri River regions become increasingly concerned about the aquatic hitchhikers. “Zebra mussels are becoming a growing concern to the Midwest as they progressively make their way west from the Great Lakes. Once a water source becomes infected, the man-hours and expense required to mitigate and remove them are significant, not to mention the effect on the natural ecosystem, ” says AE2S Project Engineer Jason Kosmatka, PE.

Engineers at AE2S have been proactively assisting clients with the implementation of strategies to combat infestations. The firm has worked with St. Cloud, MN Water Treatment Facility personnel to install a new traveling water screen with zebra mussel resistant coatings on the intake baskets. The intake screens on the raw water vertical turbine pumps were coated with the same material. The firm also designed a new intake screen for Moorhead Public Service that is fabricated from a similar zebra mussel resistant material. AE2S Project Manager Brian Bergantine, PE, says "Zebra mussels are a serious threat to our lakes and rivers, as well as surface water treatment facilities. It's great that NDSU researchers are looking for additional ways to prevent infestations."

The CNSE at NDSU has a unique biological laboratory that has previously been used to test the performance of new coating technologies on organisms such as barnacles, marine bacteria, and microalgae. The lab allows researchers in landlocked North Dakota to circumvent the time consuming, labor intensive, and expensive process of traveling to the coasts to test new coatings in the ocean or other distant bodies of water.

Researchers at the CNSE have developed new ship hull coatings for the U.S. Navy that prevent marine biofouling by using non-toxic, environmentally friendly strategies. They have also successfully developed a number of coating technologies that are currently being commercialized by a private sector partner. AE2S has been collaborating with representatives of the CSNE at NDSU regarding zebra mussel issues. The two entities are actively exploring additional opportunities to work together to further the research.  Both AE2S and the CNSE at NDSU share a commitment to developing and advancing cost-effective solutions for long-term zebra mussel control.

Click here to learn more about how the lab at NDSU's CNSE operates.




If you have any questions concerning the content of this newsletter,
please contact Heather Syverson at 701-364-9111 or Heather.Syverson@ae2s.com.
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