Nanobubble Technology Improves Irrigation and Storage Water Quality
Moleaer, a Carson-based nanobubble technology company, has developed a solution to improve water quality and efficiency across many industries, agriculture included.
Nicholas Dyner, Chief Executive Officer of Moleaer, discusses the application of nanobubble technology. With a variety of systems, which can be utilized in irrigation ponds and reservoirs, storage and day tanks, deep water culture, hydroponic systems and others, Moleaer is adaptable.
“Our range of products can treat different sizes of water bodies and tanks, and utilize different gas sources, typically air or oxygen,” Dyner says. “In some cases, the goal is all about improving water quality and reducing bacteria and pathogens. In other projects, the treatment objective is about achieving supersaturation levels of dissolved oxygen in the irrigation water to improve plant health and growth.”
As farmers face warming climates, droughts, and need to make tough choices to deal with water scarcity and poor water quality, nanobubble technology can play a crucial role.
SF: How does nanobubble technology work?
ND: Moleaer’s nanobubble technology tackles plant health at the root by improving the quality and availability of oxygen in irrigation water to improve nutrient uptake, water retention, plant growth, and disease suppression.
Nanobubbles are tiny bubbles that are 2,500 times smaller than a grain of table salt and filled with oxygen. They can optimize a water source through increasing the dissolved oxygen content and breaking down harmful pathogens and organic micro-organisms.
The nano-sized bubbles increase the oxidation-reduction potential (known as ORP) which treats or eliminates pathogens and biofilm through a process known as oxidation. The combination of elevated dissolved oxygen and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) improves water quality, restores aquatic ecosystems, and enhances root structures in plants.
Nanobubble enriched water has additional benefits for agriculture, primarily in irrigation, by increasing the healthy nutrient uptake by plants and increased root zone oxygenation.
SF: How does Moleaer help farming operations?
ND: Farmers throughout the midwest using water storage basins and source water reservoirs to support irrigation can utilize nanobubble generators to increase and maintain the dissolved oxygen levels, and improve water quality by reducing iron, controlling algae growth, and eliminating pathogens.
This has a few benefits for farming operations. It can reduce operation and maintenance costs for using chemical treatments for cleaning and maintaining the water supply, and it can increase water quality for irrigation.
SF: How is nanobubble technology sustainable?
ND: The agriculture industry needs to convert to more sustainable growing methods that rely on significantly less water and generate less nutrient run-off, which negatively impacts aquatic ecosystems and can cause harmful algae blooms in rivers, lakes and even the Gulf of Mexico. Moleaer’s nanobubble technology is cost-efficient, chemical-free and allows farmers to implement more sustainable farming practices that range from water treatment, nutrient optimization, disease prevention, and biofilm control.
Many of Moleaer’s existing customers who used their nanobubble generators to enhance irrigation water will utilize the technology to achieve dissolved oxygen levels in the 20-to-30 mg/l (ppm) range or higher, and achieve ORPs between 350 and 600 mV, which reduces their dependency on oxidizing chemicals such as peroxide or peracetic acid.
Additionally, increasing the root zone oxygenation and maintaining a stable aerobic environment stimulates beneficial bacteria growth. This in turn helps support the mineralization of nutrients and suppress pathogenic organisms like Pythium and Phytophthora from proliferating.
Farmers and growers who have installed Moleaer’s technology have seen an increase in fruit size and yield, increased nutrient uptake, improved vegetative growth, increased chlorophyll content, and healthier root development.
SF: How much does it cost to invest in a generator?
ND: Moleaer recently surveyed a broad range of customers, and the vast majority of the agriculture clients reported return on investment in one to three years depending on crop type. Many of our customers see faster production cycles, improved fruit and vegetable quality, and increases in yield.
SF: What is next for Moleaer and the generators?
ND: Moleaer is constantly researching and testing new applications in agriculture and a variety of other industries. In agriculture, we see really positive results in specialty crops such as fruit, berries, and almonds. We also see great results in aquaculture. There is a study underway now with Virginia Tech to use nanobubbles for biofilm control and food safety of crops and agriculture equipment. The University of Utah partnered with us on a project with NASA to grow crops in zero gravity in space. Maybe someday our systems will even be used to grow crops on Mars.
Nanobubble Technology on the Farm
Waterfields, an Ohio-based specialty grower, utilizes greenhouses, fields, and vertical indoor farming to grow quality produce for Cincinnati chefs and distribution throughout the Midwest and South.
Waterfields has a Moleaer installation in a 16,000sf deep water culture greenhouse where herbs and salad greens grow and installations in two ponds.
SF: Why did you decide to invest in a generator?
W: We've dealt with Pythium in our nutrient film technique systems in the past and it can be difficult to clean out. Considering the size of our ponds, we wanted to avoid deep cleaning and sanitizing outside of scheduled maintenance.
Moleaer’s nanobubble generators were recommended to us as a cost-efficient solution that would clean our ponds and increase the dissolved oxygen levels throughout the water column.
SF: What results have you seen?
W: Our plants have been consistently healthy and continue to impress our customers. Recently I heard from a customer who is a buyer from a major produce distributor say our herbs are amazing and have the best shelf life and flavor.
When we first installed Moleaer, our dissolved oxygen level quickly jumped over 20ppm. After a couple of weeks of operation, we were able to adjust the inputs to maintain 10ppm while using less than one cylinder of oxygen a week. This technology brings dissolved oxygen certainty to our operation.
Another benefit of the Moleaer nanobubble system is the ability to avoid the installation and ongoing operation and costs of a pond aeration system using air stones. Replacing air stones is easy but requires in-pond maintenance, which is time-consuming.
Additionally, and more importantly, standard pond aeration systems inject available ambient air into the pond, which can influence the temperature of the pond. Without aeration, we were able to keep pond temperatures at 78F during a period when our ventilation failed and greenhouse temperatures were 130+F. During this time, dissolved oxygen was maintained at 10ppm.
SF: What is your advice to other growers considering a generator?
W: When considering a generator, growers should make sure to connect with a supplier that is going to be supportive, simply because the process of installation is easy but getting the system to operate correctly for your parameters can be a little tricky. Moleaer’s team has been very communicative and supportive, from the sales team to engineering, they are always available to provide support.