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The Technology of Reclamation...

Now, in this segment of the talk we're going to talk about how we pelletized it and then I'm going to tell you a little bit about some of the greenhouse effects. I'm not going to spend too much time on that. We did field tests in four different deserts. We've got a Great Basin Desert site, a Colorado Plateau site, a Chuhauhaun Desert site and a Sonoran Desert site. We wanted to look all over the west because we knew climate was important and we wanted to see if this would work in a number of places.

Now one of the nice things about this methodology is that we use native species. In reclamation work in the old days the idea was that you would get something that you could buy in a seed catalogue and you take these plants out and throw them in the desert. Maybe they don't grow there, maybe they're exotics, but that's what you would use to reclaim the land. Maybe you would get some plants to grow, but they would be the wrong plants. So the real trend in reclamation and restoration efforts lately has been to use native species. You don't want to introduce exotics into these habitats. So, we went to all these desert sites and isolated cyanobacteria from those sites and then grew them up and eventually got them into mass culture.

These are big 200 liter tanks. It's actually very difficult to get to this stage, but I won't go into that. Cyanobacteria don't like growing in liquid when they're used to growing on soil. After growing the blue-green algae in these tanks we would mix them with alginate using a kitchen blender. Once mixed, we would put our alginate slurry into these plexiglass tanks we built.

This alginate is pretty neat stuff. It is really slimy and I'm convinced it is the thing they used in Ghostbusters. When people get slimed, they're getting slimed with alginate. It's the slimiest stuff I know, but when you drop it into a calcium chloride solution, the calcium forms cross linkages in this stuff and it sets up immediately into these nice little fish-egg sized balls. This shows the dripping out of the device into the solution. We then put the alginate balls on cafeteria trays on a drying rack. We put some fans on them, they dry out, and we have our innoculum.


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