Mr. T Sampath Kumar, a chartered accountant by profession has developed an innovative product to clean up lakes. His idea in simple: hasten the growth of diatom algae, which in turn provides oxygen to bacteria that consume lake pollutant substances, thus cleaning up lakes. This process is very similar to what happens naturally -- blue-green algae provide oxygen to bacteria to decompose nutrients.
So, what’s the difference? Blue green algae are not true algae and are not part of the food chain. Therefore, often they accumulate in the water body, contributing to algal bloom.
Diatom algae, on the other hand, photosynthesise, producing oxygen, and are also eaten up by zooplanktons, which, in turn are eaten by fish. So, there is no danger of the build-up of algal blooms such as may happen in the case of blue green algae. The growth of diatom algae thus helps in the growth of fish population even as the lake gets cleaned up. Mr. Sampath Kumar’s invention is the food for the growth of diatom algae, Nualgi.
Diatoms are a widespread group of algae and are found in all types of water. Diatoms photosynthesize and are responsible for nearly one-third of oxygen produced in the world. True algae are very important to the food chain. They serve as the main supply of "high energy" food for larger organisms like zooplankton, which in turn are eaten by small fish. Small fish are then eaten by larger fish, and both small and large fish are eaten by mammals, raptors, and people.
How NuAlgi works: NuAlgi is a micronutrient food containing phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, sulphur, cobalt, molybdenum and silicon in nano form (1 nano = 10-9 ). When the NuAlgi is dissolved in the contaminated water, within 15 minutes there is a bloom of diatom algae on a massive scale. The nano nutrients help the bloom in any water -- be it saline, polluted or heavily laden with sewage. Due to photosynthetic reaction these algae increase the amount of oxygen and help bacteria to break down nutrients. The foul smell of the water gradually fades out. The diatoms, bacteria and detritus are consumed by the zooplanktons, the filter feeders, present in the water. Fishes in the water bodies consume these zooplanktons. Thus the entire organic mass gets converted to fish biomass. If fishes are not present then the zooplanktons get converted to sludge, which can act as a fertilizer.
Application of Nualgi: Prepare a solution of Nualgi by dissolving it in water through a meshnet. Add the solution to the water body. One kg of Nualgi can be added for an acre of lake water for a period of one week (approximately 4 million litres of water).
Case studies: Nualgi has been used in a few lakes in Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Rajappa, head of fishing cooperative says “I used only 5 kgs of NuAlgi per week to stop the growth of water hyacinth in the 30 acre Vengayankere lake on Old Madras Road, KR Puram, Bengaluru. The growth was affecting the fish population and the continuous use totally inhibited the growth of water hyacinth. Later on when our lease expired, we stopped adding the nutrient and as a result the pungent smell again came back. Recently, when the lease was renewed, we are using it again to clean the water body.”
Cost: The cost of 1 kg of Nualgi is Rs. 300. According to Mr. M. V. Bhaskar, the agent for marketing the product, the initial cost of application of Nualgi for large lake in Hyderabad of 90000 million litres volume is estimated to be Rs. 62 lakh and the annual recurring cost would be approximately Rs. 17 lakh.