Ecolotree helps clean our environment


Poplar trees
Poplar trees

Lou Licht, who received his PhD in the University of Iowa’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is using poplar trees to clean polluted water.

Licht started the Iowa-based company Ecolotree. This company installs forests of poplar trees near sites that leak pollutants. Through a process called phytoremediation, the roots of the poplar trees help filter some of the harmful pollutants, and keep them from contaminating the water and soil.

Ecolotree has worked with 110 sites in the U.S. and one in Europe.

Learn more about Licht and his company here.

Ecolotree cleans up in Oregon


Photo by Joost J. Baker, Flickr

Lou Licht, a University of Iowa professor and founder of Ecolotree Inc., will be teaming up with the Port of Morrow industrial park in Boardman, Oregon to remove nitrates from the soil.

Licht’s company is based in Iowa and creates forests that are engineered to help clean landfills or chemical spill sites.  The Port of Morrow will be using Licht’s poplar trees to control the nitrogen in their East Beach Industrial Park.

To read more, check out the East Oregonian’s coverage here or read more below.  You can also listen to our radio podcast about Licht’s work here.

The Port of Morrow is embarking on an environmental project to test the effectiveness of trees for helping to remove nitrates from the soil. Continue reading

Poplar Science: Iowa’s Lou Licht uses trees to clean up pollution


Photo: IowaWatch.org

Check out this piece from IowaWatch.org on Lou Licht and his earth-cleaning poplars.

NORTH LIBERTY – Lou Licht was once a polluter – aiding and abetting companies that spewed toxins into the air and water.

Today he could hardly be greener.

With a quick-growing, toxic-zapping tree and a patented technique, Licht cleans up the types of messes he once helped create. His professional and environmental interests are wrapped up in trees, and he hopes to apply his work in Iowa.

He’s an entrepreneur with a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa. But in some ways, Licht still is like the dairy farmer he grew up as. Only now, he grows things. His crops are poplar trees that filter fine particles and formaldehyde from the air. When planted in swales, they retain and filter water from rain, reducing storm surges and runoff in flood-prone states like Iowa. And, they can treat sewage.

“In the case of Iowa, where we are surrounded by farmland, the right 15-20 acres can do all the tertiary treatment for a town of 1,000 people,” he said.