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Ridding East Fork's Harsha Lake of harmful algal blooms could be as easy as this machine

machine at east fork.jpg
Ann Thompson
The Hydronucleation Flotation Technology (HFT) captures unsafe water from East Fork's Harsha Lake, cleans it and returns the algae-free water to the lake. In the process, it makes a slurry that can be used to make biofuel.

A steady stream of algae-free water is being returned to Harsha Lake at East Fork thanks to a huge machine that cleans it and turns the toxins into biofuel.

Harsha Lake getting clean water.jpg
Ann Thompson
Water flows back into Harsha Lake after it's been cleaned

Harsha Lake, Buckeye Lake, Lake Erie and even the Ohio River have been plagued by harmful algal blooms over the years. There was an advisory at East Fork as recently as last summer. Technology from AECOM could be the solution.

The Hydronucleation Flotation Technology (HFT), as it’s called, will be at East Fork’s Campground beach until later this month. AECOM’s Dan Levy explains how it works: “It’s a simple process. We filter out intact algae cells, separate them from the water and return clean processed water back, and in doing so, we take that biomass and transform it into a usable energy product.”

The energy product is a biocrude oil that could be turned into sustainable jet fuel.

You can see this happening as explained by another AECOM employee in this video:


“Harmful algal blooms are becoming more toxic and lasting longer and creating more problems, so we need a full court press to solve the problem," Levy says.

This hydronucleation system is not cheap, so Director of Ohio's Department of Natural Resources Mary Mertz is going to first see if it's effective before the state buys any machines.

“When they finish the work here, I know they will collate the data and get it to us and we’ll be better informed and able to make better decisions about the future,” she says.

Levy says this system is one of the most cost effective ways to remove algae. He asks, “How valuable is water?”

Governor Mike DeWine checked out the cleaning system earlier this week.

Buckeye Lake and Lake Erie are also trying out this technology.

This is just one of H2Ohio’s ideas. The program is also trying to convince farmers to help solve the algal problem. WVXU reported on one farmer near East Fork last year.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.