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Indian River Lagoon

Recycled Plastic Bottle Caps Can Help Clean Lagoon Water

This Indian River Lagoon water treatment features mesh bags filled with bottle caps. The bags will be placed in strategic locations within the lagoon to allow “good” bacteria to grow on them.
Florida Tech
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This Indian River Lagoon water treatment features mesh bags filled with bottle caps. The bags will be placed in strategic locations within the lagoon to allow “good” bacteria to grow on them.

Naturally occurring "good" bacteria within the water column and in the sediments help remove nitrogen from the water. Unfortunately, "good" bacteria grow best only in the right conditions. Partially due to the deterioration of the lagoon over time, we are seeing less favorable habitats for these specific bacteria to live and carry out the "good" biochemical reations that remove nitrogen. Using this newly developed treatment system, we can provide the "good" bacteria a place to live on plastic bottle caps, creating effectively a pro-biotic for the lagoon.

These plastic caps are 100% contained in the system, which has two layers of protection to ensure that the bottle caps do not become loose in the environment. A bonus is that these systems can be moved within the lagoon, so as the water quality improves in one area, the systems can be relocated to whichever area needs the most improvement.

The development of this treatment system is the work of Florida Tech's Ocean engineering and marine sciences assistant professor Austin Fox and graduate oceanography student Abbey Gering. A similar approach is used in home aquaria where plastic balls are used in a filter to promote the growth of "good" bacteria. Plastic bottle caps can achieve the same result and they are seeking help collecting the large quantities of bottle caps needed to make this project possible on a large scale.

Bottle caps are perfect for water treatment because they are available globally, can be obtained relatively inexpensively and could be used to improve water quality in rural & underrepresented communities worldwide.

You can help with this effort, by collecting plastic bottle caps. Donation boxes located at Brevard Zoo, the Sun Shoppe Cafe in Melbourne, and the Tiny Turtle in Cocoa Beach. If you are not local, you can mail your caps to:
Florida Institute of Technology
Attn: Bottlecaps
150 W University Blvd.
Melbourne, FL 32901
Contact Abbey at geringa2016@my.fit.edu
Keep up with this research endevor on Facebook "@Fox Biogeochemistry Lab" and share your collection efforts! Read the Florida Tech news article.