Join the OMEGA Exploratory Paddle!

Image courtesy of NASA.

Image courtesy of NASA.

Come paddle into the future! (We’ll stop for ice cream along the way).

HarborLAB will be receiving seed funds this month (announcement coming) to work with students to build a small, prototype photobioreactor on the Newtown Creek Superfund site modeled on the NASA’s project called OMEGA — Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae. HarborLAB’s vision is to work with students to grow clean, green fuel in membranes floating on a waterway polluted by the largest U.S. urban oil spill. Algae chosen for biofuel potential would harness sunlight on the open surface expanse and derive nutrients from treated water from the Newtown Creek sewage plant. How poetic is that?
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HarborLAB hopes to undertake OMEGA Newtown Creek as a project that will enrich the educational experiences of students at LaGuardia Community College and other area schools. As OMEGA Newtown Creek grows, we’ll welcome other nonprofit partnerships. One of our sponsors, Arup, is leading Hunters Point South park and infrastructure development at the Newtown Creek mouth and in Germany built an algae-powered building.
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HarborLAB sponsor Arup building in Germany with a photobioreactor skin.

HarborLAB sponsor Arup building in Germany with a photobioreactor skin.

On August 25th, we’ll be installation site scouting and generally exploring the creek, which tells uniquely instructive ecological tales. We’ll soon name our canoes for local and renowned environmental heroes — we hope Bernie Ente, Jenni Jenkins, and Rachel Carson would get a kick out of the NASA OMEGA Project.
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To participate in this paddle, please be at least 18 years old.  Email tours@harborlab.org with the subject line “OMEGA Paddle.” If possible, please email with your signed waiver form (https://harborlab.org/waivers/) attached. You can also visit our Facebook event page. BONUS: We’ll stop by Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory on the Greenpoint side before heading back.
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OMEGA might be especially suitable for the sheltered waters of Newtown Creek, away from destructive wave action. We’re in touch with NASA’s OMEGA project lead scientist Jonathon Trent, Ph.D. to learn as much as we can. We’re a long way from implementation (classroom and lab work, further funds, permits, curricular integration, etc.), but it starts Sunday, August 25 with a canoe paddle to assess possible installation sites.
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