MIPS Projects Aim at Restoring the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake BayBy Martha Connolly

Mtech’s Maryland Industrial Partnerships program (MIPS), is working to fuel the innovation economy in Maryland. We’re working to restore the Chesapeake Bay while we’re at it. MIPS, through support from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Innovative Technology Fund, is funding some promising potential new products. If these projects are successful, you’ll see new products and new jobs in Maryland and a healthier Chesapeake Bay.

AviHome (Salisbury, Md.) worked with Professor Harter-Dennis, a poultry expert at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. AviHome has developed (and manufactures) a new type of flooring for chicken houses that  they thought would reduce ammonia formation and lets birds grow in a healthier environment. During the company’s MIPS project, Dr. Harter-Dennis discovered that this new flooring completely eliminated ammonia formation. What’s more, the birds gained more weight than birds grown with traditional litter flooring. By potentially reducing a major source of ammonia-sourced runoff into the Bay, AviHome could help solve a major environmental challenge and as a bonus, grow healthier chickens.

Maryland Environmental Plastics (Easton, Md.) is developing new seed pots made of biodegradable plastic. These pots have the potential to accelerate the restoration of coastal vegetation around the Bay. The goal of the MIPS project was to figure out what shape the plastic pots should have, so they would degrade only after plants had time to establish their root systems and take hold. Would the plants survive? Could this product be used to re-populate the Bay with grasses that are otherwise disappearing? Stay tuned!

BlueWing Environmental (Elicott City, Md.), is developing a treatment for stormwater retention ponds that collect water from areas surrounding poultry production. Their product is a Floating Treatment Wetland (FTW) made of recycled plastic fibers that remove nitrogen and phosphorus from the stormwater. For BlueWing’s MIPS project, a UM team has installed the company’s floating islands in a pond on a poultry farm on the Eastern Shore. They will study how much nitrogen and phosphorous is taken up by the islands’ plants above the water, the microbial biomass below water, and how much nitrogen is de-nitrified, or blown off as inert gas.

Hy-Tek Bio (Baltimore, Md) is working with scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences to use microalgae to remove CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-burning facilities. The UM scientists are testing various strains of algae to achieve the best performer in HY-TEK Bio’s unique photo bioreactors. By-products of these algae could also be used in pharmaceuticals, bioplastics and biofuels as well as other useful products. This new approach could help reduce air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, natural gas and methane. HY-TEK Bio’s process also reduces nutrients in waste water by using it as effluent for the algae.

Blackrock Algae (Baltimore, Md.) is working with UM scientists from College Park to test a new system that uses aquatic biomass to remove pollutants from water. This system has a high rate of removal of pollutants and reduces sediment and nutrient runoff into the Bay. Tests are being conducted on-site at Constellation Energy’s Crane Power Facility to compare this new system to ones previously used.

MIPS is working to address some of the most critical problems in today’s complex world. These MIPS projects all have the potential to lead to new products, create jobs, and enhance the health of the Bay. Check on our progress to see which of these projects will change Maryland for the better. The result: Better products, better Bay, and better economy.

EIP Student Visits MIPS Company HY-TEK Bio

Pictured, from left to right: Zheng Liu, researcher, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology; Jack French, Vice President, HY-TEK Bio; EIP student Lindsay Djuhadi; and Bob Mroz, President and CEO, HY-TEK Bio.