Nanobubble Aeration: The Future of Lake Management Is Here
Q&A with Our Industry Experts
Following our recent educational presentation on nanobubble aeration, our experts reviewed and discussed questions from our audience. There were so many great questions we just couldn’t get to! Take a look at their answers and learn more about the aeration solutions you can implement to help improve your water quality.
Did you miss the nanobubble aeration webinar? Watch the recording here.
1. Is nanobubble aeration cost effective? How does cost compare to traditional aeration or treating your waterbody with herbicides or algaecides?
Nanobubble generators are relatively expensive for each unit compared to traditional aeration. Nonetheless, nanobubble experts believe the technology is cost-effective over the long term, which is why SOLitude Lake Management offers it as service on a monthly basis. Nanobubbles provide many more benefits and results compared to traditional aeration and, in many cases, may serve as a replacement for traditional algaecides. EPA-registered algaecide treatments are environmentally safe and can work very well when applied by a licensed professional; however, we have found that once an eco-friendly nanobubble unit is established, it usually eliminates or reduces the need for algaecide treatments.
2. What problems does nanobubble aeration solve that traditional aeration does not?
A limitation of floating fountains is that they tend to only provide circulation and oxygenation benefits near the surface of the water. A limitation of bottom diffused aeration systems is that the bubbles they produce immediately rise out of the water rather than providing ongoing oxygenation—and the systems are considered inefficient in waterbodies less than 5 feet deep. Finally, neither of these devices directly eliminates algae, though they help reduce it by converting nutrients to forms that do not sustain algae growth. Using on-shore generators, nanobubble aerators infuse dissolved oxygen throughout the water column, where they provide 79,000x more oxygenation than traditional systems. This, in turn, oxidizes and destroys undesirable pollutants often found in lakes and ponds, including fecal coliform bacteria, dangerous cyanotoxins and metal contaminants. The resulting water quality benefits last 2-3 months or longer. And now that these machines are registered through the EPA as environmentally-friendly pesticidal devices, we can confirm that what we overserved during our extensive trials is true: nanobubbles not only improve water quality, they kill algae. In addition to these benefits, oxygen-rich nanobubbles provide timely, lasting results in just a few hours or days—in comparison to the much lengthier restoration processes and short-lived results of traditional systems.
3. Should nanobubble aeration replace current aeration?
Nanobubble aeration can be considered a replacement for traditional aeration in waterbodies with poor water quality and for shallow ponds. Traditional aeration works well in many instances and, therefore, not every waterbody will require nanobubble technology to achieve the goals for the property. However, if you a have a traditional system in place and are still experiencing poor water quality and algae issues, nanobubble aeration may be a more appropriate management solution.
4. Does nanobubble aeration integrate well with selective algaecides?
We have not tested this enough to provide a reliable answer yet. During our nanobubble trials, all algaecide use was ceased so we could confirm that the positive results observed were a direct result of nanobubble technology. Generally, we have not used algaecides in conjunction with the machines, but one short study to control cyanobacteria on a portion of a lake yielded some encouraging results. We believed we saw better control than expected when using algaecides, possibly due to higher oxygen levels throughout the lake following the introduction of nanobubbles.
5. Is traditional or nanobubble aeration a better solution for HAB control?
Thanks to the oxidation effect they provide, nanobubbles are a superior solution for the reduction of Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) and the toxins they can produce. Nanobubble technology also helps create a better environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive, which helps compete with an excess nutrient load, ultimately reducing the likelihood of algae and aquatic weed growth.
6. Will traditional or nanobubble aeration help reduce phosphorus in my lake?
Both traditional and nanobubble aeration can help reduce phosphorus due to the addition of oxygen to the waterbody. Nanobubbles are negatively charged and can bind with positively charged nutrients to help oxidize them and ultimately reduce the amount of phosphorus. In addition, both types of aeration can help to provide a more productive environment for beneficial bacteria to grow and help reduce phosphorus loads. However, nanobubble technology is the only aeration device registered with the EPA to eradicate algae that forms as a result of excess phosphorous in a waterbody.
7. How does aeration both traditional and nanobubble effect animal health, specifically fish? How do you determine the level of treatment needed so the waterbody doesn’t become over-oxidized?
Increasing dissolved oxygen by traditional aeration or nanobubble aeration will have a beneficial effect on fish and wildlife in general. Furthermore, increased dissolved oxygen will promote the health and proliferation of zooplankton, the base of the aquatic food chain, which helps the growth and health of fish. It’s important to remember, though, that too much of anything can be harmful. For fish, in particular, dissolved oxygen levels should remain within a certain threshold. Regular water quality testing and monitoring of dissolved oxygen levels will help ensure water quality remains balanced and healthy all season long.
8. Are nanobubbles more effective in larger or smaller waterbodies?
Nanobubble aeration has proved to be extremely effective on smaller waterbodies that are less than 5 acres. At this point, more testing is needed to determine if larger waterbodies would experience the same benefits. We believe larger waterbodies, over 20 acres, could be positively impacted by this technology, but multiple units would be needed to ensure proper distribution. At some point, the cost of multiple units relative to benefit might not make sense for most clients.
9. Does aeration help avoid having to dredge in the future?
Yes, efficient aeration using either traditional or nanobubble aeration will help promote the proliferation of beneficial aerobic enzymes and bacteria to live in an aquatic environment. Over time, beneficial aerobic enzymes and bacteria will naturally reduce organic loads in an aquatic environment, thus accelerating decomposition and, in some cases, eliminating or prolonging the need for costly dredging.
10. Does aeration help control aquatic weed growth and algae?
Over time, aquatic weed growth can be reduced indirectly by decreasing the nutrient levels through traditional aeration. In other words, aeration promotes beneficial bacteria that reduce the nutrient levels which aquatic plants and algae use to support their growth. With the absence of excess nutrients, aquatic plants and algae won’t have the resources to grow. Nanobubble aeration, on the other hand, is proven to directly and more efficiently eradicate and prevent algae growth.
11. How long does a nanobubble “treatment” last?
Every pond has its own characteristics that can determine how long the nanobubble treatment might last. Nanobubbles themselves have been observed to last 2-3 months or more, but there are many factors that can affect that time. For example, the greater the biological oxygen demand on the pond, the shorter the bubbles will last because they will be working hard to oxidize the pollutants. The longer you run a nanobubble unit, the longer the results will last. Ponds with better water quality will have longer lasting nanobubbles than “dirty” ponds. Likewise, the presence of other water features that mix or move the water can cause the nanobubbles to have a shorter life. For example, fountains or architectural waterfalls can cause nanobubbles to implode prematurely. That’s not to say you can’t use a fountain and nanobubble technology simultaneously; if your nanobubble unit is running consistently, the number of bubbles produced can offset the destruction of bubbles by sheer numbers.
12. How many hours per day does a nanobubble system need to run?
We are still learning what kind of approach works best when it comes to the operation of nanobubble systems. Throughout our many trials, we ran the systems for 24 hours a day in order to measure the most efficient results. In our current study, which has become a full-time installation, we’ve taken the same operation approach. However, we do believe that once an entire waterbody is saturated with oxygen, there is a possibility that system operation could be reduced to just a portion of the day. The long lifespan of a nanobubble should allow for intermittent operation without negatively impacting the long-term benefits.
13. Will nanobubbles help increase oxygenation in a waterbody that is constantly replaced with anoxic well water?
We believe the answer to this should be determined by how much of the lake is turned over every day. Nanobubble technology will definitely increase oxygenation, especially if the system is set up near the area where the well enters the lake. As long as the flow is not too fast for the nanobubbles to keep up with, there should still be positive benefits. The only nanobubble trial we ever overserved to be a failure involved running a system that was too small for the large size of the site, which was tidal and brought in too much flow. We did record measurable increases in oxygen, but the small system could not produce enough nanobubbles to provide the benefits we wanted. Now, armed with this knowledge, we can better assess your situation to determine if nanobubbles are your best solution.
14. Have you had any bioassays performed for these systems?
No bioassays have been performed, though we compiled extensive data during the many nanobubble trials SOLitude conducted. All of our results have been very informative and positive. Overall, they illustrate a significant increase in dissolved oxygen levels and a measurable reduction in algae blooms, including Harmful Algal Blooms (cyanobacteria) and the dangerous toxins they produce.
15. How much noise does the machine make and what is the size?
Noise levels depend on the size of the unit. There have been some complaints about noise created by larger units; however, improvements have been made to successfully minimize many of those issues. Recent data for our standard nanobubble systems shows that the noise levels are less than what you would hear from your air conditioning unit or pool filter. Landscaping around your nanobubble unit can also help cancel out some of the noise.
16. Do wetting agents have any effect on nanobubbles?
We do not believe wetting agents will have any effect on nanobubbles once they are produced, but do not know what effect they could have on bubble production.
17. Are nanobubbles a permanent installation like aeration or is it applied periodically? Can nanobubbles be a part of my annual management plan?
Yes, nanobubble aeration can be worked into part of an annual management plan. The technology can also be installed permanently like traditional aeration and then set on a timer to run for a specific amount of time each day or for a certain number of days per week, all depending on the water quality of your pond. As part of a permanent plan, continued monitoring would be necessary to determine how long and often the system would need to run for the most optimized results.
18. Can nanobubbles be used to help with iron and manganese problems in large reservoirs?
Additional testing would be required before we could sufficiently answer this question. Nevertheless, just as bottom diffused aeration can help with iron issues, there is every reason to believe that nanobubbles would have the same effect. In fact, it is possible that by evenly distributing nanobubbles throughout the water column, nanobubble aeration may be even more effective on iron.
19. Do all nanobubble machines use ozone and what does that provide that oxygen does not? Also, does ozone have any negative effect on fish or wildlife?
We are still learning about the effects of ozone on the environment, and more studies need to be completed before we will be totally comfortable with its widespread use. Concentrated ozone can be a serious issue if inhaled, but during our trials we observed that nanobubbles comprised of ozone explode rapidly underwater, so there is very little chance of negative impacts. Throughout these trials, fish, birds and insects were also monitored closely—and more often than not, wildlife was attracted to the area.