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# Zebra Mussel Energy

They've got a high fat content, could be good energy
 (+7) [vote for, against]

At a rate of 70,000 per square meter, I imagine we could harvest these guys off the bottom of lake Erie and enjoy a positive energy gain in the process. The shells can be processed into fertilizer. The burning process shall, with any luck, break down the PCBs in the zebra mussels.

We might be able to employ a bounty system for mussel collection-- pay people a dollar for every 10 pounds of zebra they scrape up, or whatever price is appropriate.

If people are going to boat around and scuba dive anyway, might as well give them something useful to do- have fun, improve the environment, and get paid for it!

A square yard is even smaller than a square meter http://www.iowadnr..../exotics/zebra.html

Yum http://www.seagrant...etwork/exotics.html

Uses for methanol http://www.methanol.org/
This is if they contain enough starches to break down into methonal [dlapham, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

What are Zebra Mussels, and are there really 70000 per square meter?
 — MikeOliver, Jul 08 2004

 ?

zebra mussels are like clams.
 — DesertFox, Jul 08 2004

 Really really tiny clams?

 — MikeOliver, Jul 08 2004

Zebra Mussels are nasty little bastards. I'm all for any way to get rid of them.
 — 5th Earth, Jul 08 2004

As a footnote, they are technically edible, but because they absorb so many toxins, it would be good to take the toxins out of the ecosystem. I'm sure that after a few years of using them as fuel, the new broods, if they aren't exterminated, will be a better snackfood.

 Well,

Meter squared =
3.2*3.2 feet =
~10.5 feet^2 =
144*10.5 in^2 =
1510 in^2 at (.5-2 in. - .5 square inch seem possible)
~3,000 of them. Maby 2 layers deep and a slipped decmimal?
 — my-nep, Jul 08 2004

 Never mind... the article says layers can be up to 8 inches thick! That's like 16 layers!

I sugest using a submersible with a giant spatula.
 — my-nep, Jul 08 2004

 How about a nice big grinding wheel?

And are mussel shells flammable? They'd really have to be to provide an energy profit.
 — shapu, Jul 08 2004

we could skin them and use the striped coat for fashion. what's that? ... oh. underwater. gotcha. but won't they drown? oh, mussels. gotcha.
 — schematics, Jul 09 2004

"the article says layers can be up to 8 inches thick! That's like 16 layers!"
It also says upto 700,000 in pipes so you'd need 235 layers or nearly 10 foot deep of the wee beasties.
 — MikeOliver, Jul 09 2004

 I imagine zebra mussels would make an excellent feedstock for thermal depolymerization. I imagine the shells are mostly calcium carbonate, i.e. glorified limestone, which will make them useful as fertilizer or a building material. Limestone isn't flammable in the classical sense, sadly, if it is heated enough, it absorbs the heat and emits carbon dioxide.

However, even if thermal depolymerization doesn't work, we still have organic material with high fat content. That can likely be put to good use.

use the shells on gravel roads. use the bodies and shells as fertilizer.
 — schematics, Jul 09 2004

If you ran over enough of them you'd have black top.
 — 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jul 10 2004

Until then you'd have zebra crossings for jaywalkers.
 — FarmerJohn, Jul 10 2004

Blue-jay walkers?
 — RayfordSteele, Jul 12 2004

Someone ought to realy look into this. I am sure that there is some way to extract energy from these mussel's. I wonder if they could be fermented to break down into methanal. We could then run cars, generators, whatever off of it. Methanol does not pack as much energy as petroleum, but is still usable. [link]
 — dlapham, Jul 13 2004

 — spiritualized, Jul 14 2004

I would like them to do SOMETHING other than just pile them on the beach in great dunes of sharp shells. I like the gravel idea. Or grind them into powder, even - our soil in Northeastern Ohio could use it; it's all clay.
 — Nycteris, Aug 17 2005

West Virginians the world over are opposed to anything that improves Ohio.
 — shapu, Aug 17 2005

 How about harvesting them with a big submersible walking drag line... It's not quite a spatula, but there's probably some surplus ones around from strip mines that could be refitted with... an atomic submarine's engine?

Once it gets to land, you dump them out, and start heating. A not too hot temperature will melt the fat down, and it can drip off for burning... which would increase the temperature to burn off most of the rest of the body, and a slight increase in temperature could convert the shells to lime for fertilizer, or cement, or to get rid of the godawful smell of burnt seafood around the generator.
 — ye_river_xiv, Aug 01 2006

 Considering the small size of a zebra mussel, it seems it might be semi-acceptable (though maybe not OMRI-approved for organic use) to dry out or compost zebra mussels before using them as a fertilizer and/or soil amendment. It wouldn't be completely unhead of, as various types of sewer sludge are already government-approved fertilizers.

 By the way, I read that some Dutch researchers suggest zebra mussels can be used for (contained) water filters.

 One thing I haven't read about is the effect of zebra mussels on bodies of water that are already considered "dead" due to acid rain and/or other contaminants.

Regardless of how zebra mussels might be used, the cost of harvesting them could be a factor. I haven't read anything about this.
 — jedi_nitemare, Feb 17 2007

 from what i've just read, it would seem that the ZM prefers lakes with a calcium content of at least 20 mg/L (and a high pH). why not lower the calcium levels by actively farming these critters, and using their bodies for energy/cement/whatever?

 farming techniques may vary, but the overall idea is to use the mussels themselves to deplete the water of enough calcium such that they cannot breed as efficiently, for as little energy as possible.

altering the chemical composition of a vast lake may impact many species, but from what i've learned, the alternative looks worse.
 — TIB, Feb 18 2007

harvest the mussels from the shell. Make roads out of the shells as suggested. Then sew all their little tongues together and make really great waterskiing line and sell it all across the great lakes! In the name of sustainability! [+]
 — daseva, Feb 18 2007

Where do these things originate from? And what keeps them under control there?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 18 2007

 They're native to the Deep Pacific Savannah, where lion oysters and leopard barnacles hunt them, keeping the population levels in check.

(Actually, they're native to lakes in Russia, and only spawn when the temperature's above 12C.)
 — imaginality, Feb 18 2007

There's got to be something that eats them.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 18 2007

Ducks.
 — methinksnot, Feb 18 2007

There must be something that eats them more. Or is it only the temperature that keeps them in check in their native habitat? It's just weird to have a species which can expand so phenomenally, except in cases where it has escaped a natural predator, parasite or competitor.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 18 2007

 I don't know much about it, but surely the main Australian plagues like rabbitts and cane-toads thrive because the predators and diseases that regulate them in their native habitats aren't present too?

I appreciate that, in many cases, the natural predator may just not survive in the new envoronment; but what controls zebra mussels in Russia, and why doesn't it thrive and control them elsewhere?
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 18 2007

Fascinating... I just learned what pseudofeces were. When I spit peanut shells out onto the floor; those are my pseudofeces. And they could be full of contaminants, and re-enter the food chain.
 — mylodon, Feb 13 2008

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