Panel suggests 48 environmental projects

The advisory group on lottery-funded environmental projects is recommending 48 projects totaling more than $36 million.

More than a third of the money from the Environmental Trust Fund would be used to buy and restore land. Another quarter targets aquatic invasive species, including Asian carp and zebra mussels.

Smaller projects include an attempt to produce electric power from bacteria in wastewater treatment plants.

University of Minnesota researcher Paige Novak would use her grant to design filters to extract hydrogen from bacteria in wastewater. She says the hydrogen can be used to produce electricity.

"The novel thing about this is the way we're protecting the bacteria, the way we're engineering the system so we can effectively scale it up and so we can maximize energy production," Novak said.

Novak said the theory is well-understood, but she plans to design technologies to scale up the process enough to produce much of the electricity a wastewater treatment plant needs.

"We're not sure about cost yet; it's a research project," she said. "But the basic calculations look really exciting and encouraging."

Other research projects include improving moose habitat and collecting background chemistry on northern Minnesota streams and soils.

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