Seminole County

Pilot program works to turn algae from Florida waterways into fuel

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — From fish kills to ongoing high manatee mortality, algae is a major problem for Florida waterways.

A pilot program to fight the issue at Lake Jesup is in its second phase, turning algae into biofuel.

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A barge has been harvesting the soupy green algae from the lake since last year.

Inside 55-gallon drums, algae harvested from Lake Jesup, mixed with solid byproduct from the Altamonte Springs wastewater reclamation facility, begins its conversion into biofuel.

WATCH: Scientists studying new treatments to combat harmful algae blooms in Florida waterways

The byproduct is a sludge that is basically equivalent to crude oil. But natural crude oil can take 10 million years to form in deep underground rock formations, while this conversion process takes about an hour.

The sludge can be transported to an oil refinery where it can be converted into jet fuel or diesel gasoline.

READ: Blue-green algae detected in Orlando lake; what to do if you encounter it

The ongoing pilot program will continue through June to analyze how efficient the process could be on a larger city scale.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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