Minnesota firm tries to solve metal pollution with peat
AITKIN, Minn. (AP) — A northern Minnesota company says it’s developed a natural, cheap technology to reduce heavy metal contamination in waterways.
American Peat Technology applies processed granulized peat to plants to help draw nitrogen from the air and reduce the need for fertilizer, Minnesota Public Radio reported . The company harvests and processes peat in Aitkin.
Reed-sedge peat is also capable of extracting metals from water, said Doug Green, the company’s CEO. The company is also working on a proprietary method that uses peat to capture sulfates in water, he said.
“You can load it with sulfate and then strip the sulfate off. Load it again. Strip it. Load it. Strip it,” Green said.
Metal can flow into water from runoff from industrial and agricultural producers. Producers and environmental authorities are monitoring for high levels of metal in water.
“If they’re at too high a level, they can cause harm to the aquatic life in the water,” said Shannon Lotthammer, assistant commissioner for water policy at the state Pollution Control Agency. “If the water is a drinking water source and it’s not being treated, that can also be toxic to humans at higher levels.”
The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute is helping the company improve its pollution-fighting products. The company paid the institute to research peat and refine patent applications.
“We were able to develop the technology to make it more effective, more efficient,” said Igor Kolomitsyn, a chemist at the institute.
American Peat has about a half-dozen customers buying its peat for water treatment. The material sells for about 60 cents a pound.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org