To restore nature’s equilibrium to the world’s water bodies
Phosphorus is one of the primary elements needed to sustain all life forms. It is the structural backbone in DNA and RNA and a necessary nutrient for all life forms. Phosphorus is distributed throughout the body in the form of phosphate. Most of the body’s phosphate is stored in the bones (approximately 85%) with the rest in other cells of the body. It is used for cellular metabolism, as well as the formation and strengthening of bones, teeth, and cell membranes. Additionally, as part of cellular metabolism, phosphates help orchestrate the release of oxygen from the hemoglobin which supplies the body with energy. Phosphates are absorbed by the intestines from dietary sources and the excess is excreted primarily through the kidneys and must be continuously replenished through dietary consumption. As the world population grows, so does the demand for phosphates for use as fertilizer. All food items contain phosphates, including vegetables, fruit, meat, and fish. The planet Earth only has a limited supply of phosphates, and phosphate cannot be synthesized or created by man. As we continue to mine this valuable limited element to satisfy population growth, we are depleting the world supply.
Nitrogen is the most abundant element found on earth today making up 78.1% of the atmosphere. Nitrogen is one of the primary elements needed to sustain all life forms. In plant life, nitrogen makes up one of the important elements of chlorophyll used to photosynthesize carbon dioxide along with water and sunlight to produce sugars and oxygen gas. Nitrogen is an essential element of amino acids in proteins and a component of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which stores and provides all energy for living cells to react when the phosphorus bonds are released. An example is the transfer of gases in respiration and to provide the energy for muscle contraction. ATP is often considered as the “Absolute Giver of Life.” Nitrogen compounds include organic and inorganic substances and are constantly interchanging between living organisms and the atmosphere (known as the nitrogen cycle). Although nitrogen is important to sustain all lifeforms, too much nitrogen in our surface water bodies along with high phosphorus concentrations create eutrophication issues. High concentrations are a result of many human-created discharges of wastewater containing various nitrogen compounds (primarily ammonia) and from rainwater runoff of fertilizers containing high concentrations of ammonia.
Phosphorus is usually a limiting element for algae and phytoplankton growth and is thus one of the leading causes of eutrophication, toxic algae, and red tides. Concentrations of phosphorus have been increasing at accelerated rates over the past 100 years as population has continued to grow. Phosphorus concentrations in surface water bodies have become a critical problem in areas that are highly populated with people, livestock, and agriculture. Phosphorus removal from rainwater runoff and wastewater discharges must now be considered to protect our surface waters from eutrophication. Many methods to remove these nutrients have been, and continue to be, implemented with undesirable results. These methods are very expensive and can add soluble chemicals or heavy metals into our water bodies, which can cause other detrimental environmental issues or create toxins in the water.
Excess nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, in surface water bodies cause unnaturally high algae growth, blocking sunlight from reaching necessary plant life living beneath the surface of the water. This plant life dies and then decays. Then, naturally occurring bacteria begin digesting the decaying plant matter, depleting oxygen in the water and releasing methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide gases that rise to the surface and get released into the atmosphere. Aquatic life eventually suffocates and dies as a result of this lack of oxygen, known as anoxia. Additionally, these changes in water chemistry are often optimal for non-indigenous species of toxic algae to thrive. This invasion of toxic algae is occurring at an accelerated rate, leading to the production of cyanobacteria and increasing the risk of acute health issues in humans, land animals, and aquatic life.
Every year, more recreational lakes are closed to public access due to unsafe toxicity and, in some cases, massive fish kills and noxious odors. Additionally, there are increasing reports of livestock, pet, and wildlife deaths caused by consumption of contaminated water from eutrophic lakes. Excessive nutrients emptying from our rivers into estuaries, bays, and oceans are causing increased incidences of toxic algae and phytoplankton blooms, often referred to as red or brown tides. These blooms release toxic spores in the water and atmosphere, killing marine life and creating respiratory health issues for humans and animals, as well as food poisoning for those that eat contaminated fish and shellfish. In 2013, red and brown tides led to the highest number of manatee deaths that have ever been recorded for a single year in Florida history.
Our solution: Once water bodies have become eutrophic, NClear’s TPX™ technology can help to restore equilibrium and prevent Harmful Algal Blooms and anoxic conditions by effectively sequestering excess phosphorus into the sediment.
Recent research indicates that the entire world supply and production of readily-mineable phosphorus could peak over the next 30 to 50 years. When this occurs, we could begin seeing an impact on global food production as fertilizer supplies cannot keep up with population growth, at least not without developing the means to mine phosphorus from the ocean floor. In the worst case, wars and famine could result if new sources of phosphorus or recycling methods are not found. Phosphate mining for the production of fertilizers and other food and industrial uses has been in existence for over 100 years, and each year the demand increases as the population continues to grow.
Our solution: Because phosphorus is bound to our TPX™ nanocrystals, it is possible to recover and recycle the phosphorus through the same process used to process phosphate rock. Initial studies also indicate that phosphorus bound to TPX™ crystals can be an effective fertilizer.