President and CEO Adam Noble, left, next to Andrea Lacerda and interim researcher Laurence Emery during the opening of Noble Purification Inc. bio-filtration plant showcasing its state-of the-art water purification equipment. Photo: Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

President and CEO Adam Noble, left, next to Andrea Lacerda and interim researcher Laurence Emery during the opening of Noble Purification Inc. bio-filtration plant showcasing its state-of the-art water purification equipment. Photo: Clifford Skarstedt/Peterborough Examiner/Postmedia Network

J dropcapoelle Kovach writes in the Peterborough Examiner that a company developing new technologies using the algae euglena to purify water has opened a new facility near Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario.

Noble Purification was founded by Adam Noble, 21, a medical student. So far, the two-year-old company has operated out of a lab at Trent. Their new facility is located in part of an empty Trentway bus garage — with lots of space to grow.

In the lab at Trent, they were able to produce about 100 kilograms of the algae per year. Mr. Noble said the new facility will produce up to eight tons a year, allowing them to use it for new applications, such as cleaning up the arsenic in tailings ponds at gold mines.

Mine operators are concerned about the chemicals leaching into the environment, and Mr. Noble proposes to use algae to help. “They currently don’t have a way to clean it,” he said.

There’s also an added bonus to this method — for gold mines.

Andressa Lacerda, the company’s COO, said 10% of the gold extracted in mines ends up in the tailings pond and they can recover it using this clean-up method.

She said oil sands have tailings ponds, too, and those can also be cleaned using Noble’s methods. The goal would be to eliminate the need for tailings ponds altogether, she said.

Meanwhile the company is still pursuing earlier projects related to cleaning up municipal wastewater. Euglena cleans phosphorus from city wastewater, said Ms. Lacerda. Phosphorus can overwhelm a municipal wastewater plant to the point that it ends up limiting a city’s growth potential. But she says Noble’s purification methods could help wastewater treatment plants become far more efficient.