‘Extreme Makeover: Laboratory Edition' at St. Anthony Falls

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Talk about a facelift. The University of Minnesota's 76-year-old St. Anthony Falls Laboratory celebrated its $16 million renovation Tuesday, complete with a tour to show off its new upgrades.

Known for its many research facilities, the lab includes a channel that carries river water through it at rate of up to 2,200 gallons per second. Lab Director Fotis Sotiropoulos says with the upgrades, researchers can create waves in the channel, which provides the opportunity for a variety of new projects.

"This is extremely important in being able to do research on off-shore wind energy and wave energy extracting devices," Sotiropoulos explained during a tour of the lab.

The new renovation was made possible with $7.1 million in federal stimulus money and $9.1 million in state funds for university capital projects.

KARE 11 says the riverside facility was built in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration project. The renovation of the lab began in 2012. The U of M has a detailed timeline of the facility.

The lab says other improvements include insulation for a wind tunnel, which enables year-round use. The wind tunnel enables the U of M's efforts to develop renewable energy.

Also new is a lab that studies the impact of water flow on green algae.

"We try to understand how algae respond to fluid flow and how we can develop scientific approaches for restoring streams, rivers and improving water quality in lakes," Sotiropoulos tells KARE 11.

Sotiropoulos says the focus of the renovation was to repair its crumbling infrastructure, and as a result, the upgrades will make the lab relevant decades into the future.

The Minnesota Daily says in addition to physical upgrades, an effort is underway to accommodate researchers around the world, as the basic framework has been laid to develop an Internet-based portal in the lab.

“What we would like to do is provide an experience where somebody, wherever, they can sit on a terminal and work with somebody here in real time,” Sotiropoulos tells the Daily.

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