New research uses radio waves to kill zebra mussels

August 29, 2001 – Scientists from Purdue University Calumet presented research Tuesday on the use of radio waves as a chemical-free way to kill zebra mussels.

The technology, presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, shows promise for use in situations where the waterway is sensitive to the addition of chemicals, such as the Great Lakes region, Reuters News Service reported.

Zebra mussels expanded their range in the past year, invading 11 new lakes in the Great Lakes region and dramatically increasing in Lake Champlain, according to U.S. Geological Survey biologists.

Native to Eastern Europe and Asia, the small fresh-water mussels have few natural enemies in the U.S. and their rapid reproduction has caused widespread economic and environmental damage. Zebra mussels have clogged intake pipes of community water systems and power stations, the USGS scientists said.

Some of the more conventional ways to deal with the mussels have included chlorine treatments, potassium permanganate, ozone and others.

In the latest research, when the zebra mussels were exposed to low-energy radio waves emitted by a generator, they were killed within 40 days, Purdue researchers said.

More importantly, the radio waves did less harm to other animals such as crabs, crayfish and other freshwater mussels, and had no impact on fish.

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