Kenneth Lovell, P.E.

Kenneth Lovell, P.E.

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Kenneth Lovell, P.E. brings nearly a half-century of experience to Bioponica™ as a civil and environmental engineer, hydroponic gardener and as a farmer of conventional row crops. A stickler for details, Kenneth treats even the smallest job with the precision and accuracy of his largest projects.

Kenneth Lovell, P.E. earned a BSCE degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Wastewater Engineering, from Northeastern University, Boston, MA in 1966. He completed 2 years of graduate studies, also at Northeastern in 1970, following 3 deployments as a Seabee in Vietnam. As a commissioned officer in the U S Navy Civil Engineering Corps, Ken’s Battalion, USNMCB-62, constructed bridges, highways, hospitals, runways, housing facilities, water storage tanks and other critical infrastructure.

At age 10, Ken got his first taste of farming with his father who raised vegetables. Thirty years later, in 1974 he returned to his roots by building the first hydroponic greenhouse in the state of Alabama. He successfully raised tomatoes until he was forced to shut it down when the price of heating fuel tripled in the year 1978.

For the next thirty years Ken was employed as a project engineer for major companies providing upgrades to wastewater treatment plants with deteriorating infrastructure including a number of 30-40 year old anaerobic digesters. In the mid 80’s he got involved with the hazardous waste industry.

Key projects

  1. Over a period of 5 year in the early 70’s Kenneth developed a state of the art pure oxygen waste water treatment plant for the Mobile, AL Water and Sewer Board. His work included designs for carbon removal, nitrification and denitrification. This complex project included a 90% oxygen production unit. As project design engineer he handled mechanical, civil, hydraulics and process. He was responsible for developing hydraulics and piping, supervising draftsmen, construction crews and inspections. The facility won many awards over the following years. He maintained involvement in the site for over 20 years. The oxygen plant is still in operation, although the process today is more costly than modern anaerobic systems. It was the best technology at the time and continues to process 28 million gallons of wastewater per day.
  2. Later hired by Veolia Water, which maintained anaerobic digesters that needed maintenance, Kenneth Lovell, P.E. completed another half dozen major projects, as project construction engineer.
  3. He was subsequently hired by Arcadis to reconstruct 4 more treatment plants with the largest one being the DeKalb County anaerobic digester complex. The facility known as the Pole Bridge WTP was to be upgraded to receive sludge from Snapfinger WTP, pumped underground over a distance of 5 miles. His design was an egg-shaped digestion system along with gas treatment, compression and storage facilities. The entire design process took 2 years to complete and the sludge handling facility including digesters, sludge dewatering and associated infrastructure cost approximately $135 million. The entire project design covering upgrades to both treatment plants cost $735 million. The design was based on maximizing gas production and treatment to remove moisture and sulfur. The compressed gas bi-product was for use as fuel to heat the digesters, generate power and dry the sludge after dewatering to reduce final disposal costs.
  4. Ken became heavily involved in soil restoration through waste treatment systems that required remediation at CIBA’s chemical plants containing soil residues. For a period of 5 years as Design and Project Manager at CIBA he was tasked with developing processes for immobilizing and destroying environmentally hazardous chemical insecticides and herbicides. Through chemical fixation, contaminated soils and residues were encapsulated in cement and land vaulted. Stronger elements were treated and destroyed, broken to carbon and nitrogen following hazardous cleanup standards of the EPA. The $32 million dollar estimated project was completed at under $28 million dollars and also won a number of awards. He continued working with CIBA till 2005 as a consultant.

From his experience with wastewater remediation and farming Ken contributes invaluable knowledge to Bioponica™. One of his primary motivations is to solve the problem of anaerobic digestate by integration of more modest treatment systems with soil-less farming. The dual benefit of fertilizing plants while remediating waste helps the community by reducing high cost of involved with processing the digestate liquid waste.  Bioponica™ systems are designed to process the nitrogen and phosphate rich wastewater by using the contained recirculating waters to grow edible plants and animal feed.

Kenneth is the third son in a lineage of inventors and engineers that began with his grandfather, who pioneered slate quarrying in New England and invented what is known today as the ‘jackhammer.’ His father was a graduate Civil Engineer who specialized in the construction of earth fill dams, railroads, subway tunnels, suspension bridges and hospitals during the period 1916-1965.

To this day, the 69 year old Kenneth Lovell, P.E. maintains a 10,000 square foot garden within the city. With the support of his wife Mary, together they harvest, boil, can, pickle and prepare the produce for themselves, family and friends throughout the year.


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