Q: What does your microTERRA do?

A: We take fish farm wastewater and give it to our microalgae. This cleans the water so the water can be reused. It saves a lot of water, too. It also helps stop downstream pollution that will destroy ecosystems.

Our company uses a special strain of microalgae. When it goes through photosynthesis, it produces protein. We then process the protein from the microalgae into food for the fish.

Q: How do you grow the microalgae?

A: Microalgae are microscopic. So, we start in the lab on a small scale. We know what the microalgae like. We know what they need to grow. And we know where they thrive in general. But we have to scale up because agriculture is huge.

Q: So, to scale it up, you have to grow massive amounts of microalgae?

A: We use a bioreactor. We have pretreatment [in the lab]. We have bioreactors where the microalgae grow and a harvester to collect the biomass. Building the harvester was a challenge. It had to hold large quantities of wastewater. It had to be cheap and easy to manage, too.

Microalgae convert excess nutrients in water into protein. They also release oxygen.

Q: Is it dangerous to work with wastewater?

A: Wastewater is full of harmful bacteria. We use gloves and wear masks and gowns for protection.

Flores examines a tank full of wastewater and algae.

A farm creates wastewater.

Wastewater is processed with microalgae.

Clean water and protein are produced.

Protein is made into fish food.

Food is used to feed fish on
the farm.

Circular Economy

Micro terra

Q: Do you have any advice for people who might want to become environmental scientists? 

A: I would say to start on small projects. Think of different ways you can reduce waste or pollutants. It could be something like a tiny water treatment pond. Every tiny experiment counts! Tell everyone about what you are doing. Maybe you can share ideas and solve problems together.