How an ASU program helped a student business working to turn poop water into plants
A new master’s degree program that’s a partnership of the Fulton Schools and ASU’s business and design schools is enabling a company co-founded by Travis Andren, an ASU alumnus — and a graduate of the program — to pursue its goal of developing a new way to clean up agricultural wastewater. Traditionally, many industrial animal farms manage waste from animal excrement in ways that can let the waste become a threatening environmental contaminant. These “manure lagoons” that often leak and flood can infiltrate local groundwater and endanger other aquatic environments, says Fulton Schools Assistant Professor Rebecca Muenich, who studies agricultural water quality. Now Andren’s company is developing a system to harness the productive characteristics of high-protein duckweed plants to clean contaminants from agriculture water before it reaches nearby communities.