AntiMussel Aims to Solve Lake Michigan Zebra Mussel Problem


Wisconsin native and army veteran Tyler Rezachek grew up fishing on Lake Michigan, so he’s very familiar with the issue of invasive zebra mussels in the lake. His frustration with scraping mussels off his boat every season led him to brainstorm a solution: AntiMussel.

The program, launched last May, proposes vacuuming up the mussels with boats set to patrol an automated path, and then converting those mussels into calcium carbonate, reports BizTimes. Zebra mussels offer a higher purity rate of calcium carbonate than that made from limestone, are the world’s only source of renewable calcium carbonate, and one zebra muscle can provide enough calcium carbonate to make one sheet of printer paper.

“The innovation here is the process of removal (of the mussels), processing and the end product,” says Rezachek, reports BizTimes. “We normally get calcium carbonate from rocks. The process right now is mining big rocks, smashing them into a really fine powder, putting it into a pill form, and selling it. The rocks they’re mining are limestone, which are several million year old seashells. In my mind, you can just skip that million years and we can pull them off the lake.”

AntiMussel took second place at the New North’s pitch competition last December, and has received $16,900 in grant funding, bolstered by Rezacheks’ own bootstrapping. He hopes to launch a pilot program in Plymouth, Wisconsin this spring. His goal? To remove a 250 square meter area of mussels himself with the help of a diver. In March, the program will also seek community feedback via an online survey. 

“I didn’t realize how big of a problem this was until I started working on it,” adds Rezachek.. “It’s astounding. We’re talking about trillions of mussels in the Great Lakes. It’s literal piles and blankets of mussels across the bottom of the lake and we intend to suck them up.”