Students find novel way to fight zebra mussel invasion

May 11, 2017
Students build Zequanox Subsurface Injection Mechanism
Zequanox Subsurface Injection Mechanism
Zequanox Subsurface Injection Mechanism

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – A team of eight University of Wisconsin-Platteville senior design students in mechanical engineering found a novel way to defeat invasive zebra and quagga mussels – a dispersion system that releases a toxicant which dissolves the mussel’s digestive linings from the inside out. The students coined the dispersion system as “Zequanox Subsurface Injection Mechanism.”

The team designed the plumbing, nozzle array, and method for inserting and removing the system in the water, all of which they attached to a barge provided by the United States Geological Survey. They also designed on-shore mixing and transport stages. The toxicant they used, Zequanox, is an EPA approved product composed of dead cells of a naturally occurring microbe (marronebioinnovations.com/ molluscicide/zequanox/).

The team spent roughly 200 hours this semester developing a prototype that can eliminate the invasive mussels. They recently set up their system in the parking lot of UW-Platteville’s Engineering Hall to give it a test run before sending it to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center is located. From there, the USGS will send the system to test ponds in northern Michigan.

Team members include Jason Abernathy, Nick Becker, Kevin Blankenship, Will Bryant, Josh Gilson, Grant Parry, Joe Porter and Kate Smith. The USGS sponsored the senior design project.

On Wednesday, May 17, Senior Design Day, the team will present their final paper and discuss what worked well for their project. In the future, this dispersion system could be adapted for wide-scale usage, such as covering a larger area or using multiple systems at once, and result in the elimination of the invasive mussels.

Written by: Kelsey Bigelow, Communications Intern, College of EMS, 608-342-6153, bigelowk@uwplatt.edu

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