On the eve of the Dot-com crash, Peter Drucker predicted “aquaculture, not the internet, represents the most promising investment opportunity of the 21st century.“
We’ve pushed agriculture and the Green Revolution to its limits on land, but remained hunter-gatherers on the ocean. A Blue Revolution in ocean farming technology would launch seasteads to center stage.
Project OASIS (ocean aquaculture for seastead integrated solutions) envisions a future landscape populated by seastead “oases,” and is educating entrepreneurs on the most realistic paths forward.
Why ocean algae?
The Institute’s emphasis on sustainable solutions for seastead communities makes us a natural focal point for aquaculture pioneers. The ocean’s abundant resources are primary a attraction for potential seastead residents. Furthermore, we seem to have picked the “low-hanging fruit” of soil-based farming and fossil fuels from beneath the ground and will soon be forced to compete over existing, diminishing resources.
Properly harnessed, ocean aquaculture has the potential to meet humanity’s growing demands for food and energy, and accelerate the arrival of cities and new societies on the ocean frontier.
- +What are algae?
- Phytoplankton, also known as microalgae, are photosynthetic aquatic microbes that originated in oceans around 3 billion years ago. Microalgae form the base of the aquatic food chain, regulate the earth’s atmosphere, and produce the majority of fossil fuels under the intense pressure and heat of the ocean floor. Seaweed, or macroalgae, is a prolific aquatic plant with commercial uses as food, animal feed, biogas, nutraceuticals, and cosmetics. Marine plants can obtain nutrients from their surroundings, require no fresh water, and do not have to waste energy on expensive roots to work against gravity.
- +Why grow algae in conjunction with seasteads?
- In recent years, both micro- and macroalgae have been deliberately grown to meet human needs for food, energy, nutritional supplements, and more. Advantages on the ocean include abundant open space, sunlight, and nutrients, as well as decreased risk of contamination. These benefits provide economic incentives for would-be seastead residents and entrepreneurs alike. Today, edible offshore seaweed is mainly in grown in China and other Asian countries. The focus on energy has shifted to microalgae on land. Larger algae ventures are driven by government subsidies for biodiesel, while smaller companies are innovating processes of strain selection, genetic enhancement, dewatering, and conversion to higher value feeds and oils. Unlike land plants and animals, which were domesticated at or near their native habitats, aquatic species are being farmed in more human-friendly environments like vats, ponds, and petri dishes. Recent experiments have led to great strides in our knowledge of algae’s potential uses, but costs of land-based algae farming remain too high for large-scale production. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; producing large amounts of algae on land is akin to cattle ranching at sea. Moreover, land-based microalgae production incurs unnecessary costs in irrigation, pumping, mixing, cooling, nutrient supply, habitat destruction, and of course, real estate. The ocean poses new challenges in infrastructure, access, and the environment, but the advantages — particularly the virtually unlimited amount of space the oceans provide — outweigh these challenges. Project OASIS aims to highlight mariculture technologies for sustainable food and energy production, beginning with the realization of ocean algae’s enormous potential when combined with a framework of innovative seastead communities.
- +Has anyone else thought of this?
- Large-scale ocean algae cultivation was first explored during the 1970s. In the wake of the moon landing, during the first oil and gas crisis, CalTech researchers teamed up with General Electric and the United States Navy to grow offshore kelp for biogas on a truly massive scale. They planned a 40,000-hectare farm, but the initial quarter-acre test site didn’t survive the stormy season, and the end of the energy crisis led to the termination of the so-called Marine Biomass Program. Today, there are a handful of projects aiming to reignite the bold visions of the 1970s in a stormproof manner, although none have enumerated a clear path to get there. Patrick Takahashi, Director Emeritus at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, has been promoting the idea of a “Blue Revolution” in marine aquaculture, built around floating platforms, since even before The Seasteading Institute was founded. We are now collaborating with Dr. Takahashi and numerous others to chart a clear course for an inspired, yet incremental approach to harnessing the ocean’s bounty.
- +What about the environment?
- The Green Revolution transformed the productivity of land, but at a high cost to the environment and human health. Humanity urgently needs ocean algae, but prevailing eco-awareness demands that the Blue Revolution explore production possibilities with environmental precaution. Our case studies highlight projects and individuals that can advance humanity while acting as the stewards of the ocean. An early focus on filter-feeders, like oysters, which consume ocean algae and require no outside feed, makes sense from an environmental standpoint. We will also explore the possibility of remediating the environment and restoring biodiversity with the intentional cultivation of larger, more complex ecosystems.
Tropical Sea Farming
Ricardo Radulovich (PhD, UC Davis) is a professor of water science at the University of Costa Rica, and coordinator of the Cultivated Seaweeds for Food project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Sea Gardens Project, a former World Bank initiative exploring a sustainable ocean-based approach to food and water production, and mitigation of drought and climate change. Last Fall, the Institute gave Radulovich a grant to write a guide to all aspects of ocean farming. Now, Radulovich and his team are looking to apply decades of experience in agriculture and marine aquaculture to a bold new seasteading experiment, in which floating food production systems are shepherded from an inhabited central platform in the immediate coastal zones of Central America. Radulovich delivered a talk on his previous work and future plans at the Seasteading Conference 2012, which you can watch here. We have also teamed with Radulovich to solicit grants that would enable the dissemination of sea farming technology in developing countries all around the world.
KZO Sea Farms: Pioneering ocean aquaculture policy
KZO Sea Farms, founded by social and tech entrepreneur Phil Cruver, is currently developing a 100-acre shellfish farm – the first in US waters – 5 miles off the Southern California coastline. In the process, KZO is setting a stellar example for how to build a strong coalition of support, and act as the ocean’s steward.
PIOS: Launching the Blue Revolution
Blue Revolution Hawaii (BRH) is a nonprofit organization led by Dr. Patrick advocating for the creation of a Pacific International Ocean Station (PIOS) through global internet outreach, video documentaries, public education, policy research, and organizing philanthropic donors, institutional research, and support partners.
Peter Drucker: Beyond the Information Revolution? (The Atlantic, October 1999) – Medal of Freedom winner and famed economist Peter Drucker describes how aquaculture could trigger the next major societal shift.
Blue Revolution (Huffington Post, February 16, 2009) – Friend of the Institute Patrick Takahashi describes his vision for the future of ocean aquaculture: a floating OTEC plant that upwells deep ocean water to spur algae blooms, and forms the basis for an entire marine biomass plantation/seastead city-state.
Phosphorus Famine: The Threat to our Food Supply (Scientific American, June 3, 2009) – David Vaccari warns of the possibility of “peak phosphorus.” The entire food chain depends on this key nutrient, and the only place where is remains abundantly available is just beneath the ocean’s surface.
Military Spending on Biofuel Draws Fire (NY Times, August 27, 2012) – The Navy and President Obama claim government is needed to support clean biofuels until they become affordable. Republicans say that biofuel purchases by the military are wasteful spending, and that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus should leave energy policy to the DOE.
Consider the Oyster (Trojan Family Magazine, May 1, 2009) – Oysters have numerous benefits in their of environmental impact, nutrition, and evolutionary robustness that make them an ideal candidate for early ocean aquaculture.
Avista investment to help Matrix strike oil in algae (Seattle Times, August 29, 2012) – Firms are competing to discover the splice the most productive strains of algae, to patent a Gold Standard for biofuel feedstocks around the World.
First portion of huge algae farm in New Mexico is done (Gigaom.com, August 27, 2012) – Sapphire has completed the first phase of a massive land-based microalgae-to-biofuel facility — but it remains uncertain whether can produce a profit.
Exploiting diversity and synthetic biology for production of algal biofuels (Nature, August 16, 2012) – This paper explores the possibility of using new so-called “recombinant DNA” technology to increase oil yields in algae for enhanced biofuels.
Senate bill could extend biorefining, biopower tax credits (Biomass Magazine, August 8, 2012) – Biofuels made from algae would have additional backing from the United States government, in the form of $1.00/gallon tax credit.
United issues corporate-responsibility report (CBSNews.com, August 7, 2012) – United and other airlines are touting their eco-friendly algal biofuels as part of a PR strategy
Study determines theoretical energy benefits and potential of algae biofuels (University of Texas, July 12, 2012) – In order to become competitive, algae to biofuel processes must not consume more energy than they produce in fuel. In theory, this is possible, but it has proved difficult in practice using existing methods.
Investment Shift for Algae Biofuels, Market to Grow 43.1% Annually Through 2015: SBI Bulletin (MarketWatch.com, July 30, 2012) – Private investors, led by large oil companies, are beginning to replace government as the primary backers of algae-to-biofuel enterprises.
Algae.Tec Announces Commissioning of Advanced Algae to Biofuels Facility (Sacramenton Bee, August 2, 2012) – An Australian algal biofuel company is cutting costs by recycling industrial waste (Carbon Dioxide) into nutrients for the algae.
US hosts world’s largest naval exercises in Hawaii, with 25,000 sailors from 22 countries (Washington Post, June 29, 2012) - “One new part of the drills is the use of a cooking oil and algae biofuel blend to power some of the U.S. vessels and aircraft. The Navy is spending $12 million to buy 425,000 gallons of biofuel for the exercises.”
Virgin Airlines to Invest in Biofuels (Kapitall Wire, June 22, 2012) - “Over 1,500 commercial flights have reportedly used biofuels already.”
A milestone from Synthetic Genomics: Yellow algae (Gigaom, May 30, 2012) - “The future of algae biofuel will not come from nature.”
Obama’s Algae Energy Euphoria: Is Pond Scum a Green Scam? (Forbes, May 6, 2012) - “Growing that much algae will require a land area roughly the size of South Carolina, and about 25% of all U.S water currently consumed for crop irrigation just to compensate for evaporation.”
OriginOil and Algasol Renewables to Develop an Integrated Algae Growth and Harvesting System (Yahoo Finance, May 3, 2012) - “Algasol, collaborating with NASA and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, will bundle its offering with OriginOil’s Algae Appliance.”
OriginOil CEO on Algae as ‘Petroleum of the Future’ (Washington Post, April 25, 2012) - “A Manhattan project will produce 1,000,000 barrels of [algal] oils a day within a year.”
Picking up Pennies in Parking Lots: the algae biofuels angle (BiofuelsDigest, April 24, 2012) - “[A]fter you have grown them, you either have to get the algae out of the water or the water out of the algae.”
Whatever happened to algae and biofuels? (BiofuelsDigest, April 23, 2012) - “Sapphire Energy, among other hardy survivors, press forward, as others melt away or re-focus on higher-value, smaller-market products.”
NASA’s Got A Brand New Bag, and It’s Full of Algae (Fast Company, March 25, 2012) - “The space agency is experimenting with making fuel from algae and sewage water in massive, floating plastic bags.”
Is Algae Biodiesel a decade away? (RenewableEnergyWorld.com, October 7, 2011) - “To supply the European market, algae yields would need to be over 4,400 gallons of fuel per acre each year. That would require 22 million acres – a land area the size of Portugal.”
It’s Not Easy Fueling Green (Townhall Magazine, August 28, 2011) - “It would appear that be it electric cars or biofuels, this administration is more interested in Cash, Command and Control than it is in providing real energy solutions.”
BlogFirst Project OASIS case study published: KZO Sea Farms, pioneering ocean aquaculture policy (July 2, 2012)
National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap (US Dept. of Energy, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy – Biomass Program, May 2010)
A Look Back at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program: Biodiesel from Algae (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, July 1998)
A Realistic Technology and Engineering Assessment of Algae Biofuel Production (T.J. Lundquist T.J. et al. October 2010)
Harvesting Natural Algal Blooms for Concurrent Biofuel Production and Hypoxia Mitigation (Chih-Ting Kuo, 2010)
Ocean Seaweed Biomass For large scale biofuel production (Lenstra W.J et al, September 2011)
The offshore-ring: A new system design for the open ocean aquaculture of macroalgae (Bela Hieronymus Buck and Cornelia Maria Buchholz, May 2004)
- The Use of Biodiesel Fuels in the U.S. Marine Industry (Pradeep Nayyar, April 2010)
- +Submersible aquatic algae cultivation system
AbstractFloating ponds for the cultivation of algae. The floating ponds consist of a buoyant framework, a liner, a culture, and a mooring system. A buoyant framework built from tubes that may be filled or partially filled with air, or water, or the surrounding water, or the culture, and provides a framework in which the buoyancy may be modulated. Submerging lines and spools control the orientation and depth of the floating pond during submersion.View the patent
- +Method of production of biofuel from the surface of the open ocean
Michael Markels, Jr
AbstractComprises testing the ocean surface waters to determine any nutrients that are missing, and applying a fertilizer with any missing nutrients. As seaweeds grow in the open ocean they float and aggregate together in the form of loose floating patches as does the Sargassum weed in the Sargasso Sea. This is an ideal form for harvesting using a powered rake to bring the biomass over the bow of the harvesting vessel. The biomass can then be dried and compressed in the vessel hold for shipment back to port for processing to obtain biofuel components. Since the harvesting vessel has just removed biomass from the ocean it is an excellent vehicle to disburse the required fertilizing elements into the ocean surface. It may also be possible to separate seeds or buds from the seaweed and add them back into the ocean water with the fertilizer to enhance the next harvest. The harvested biomass is transferred to port for processing into biofuel components.View the patent
- +Atmospheric bioremediation system and method
Robert D. Adams
AbstractAgar is a commonly used laboratory biological growth medium which is helpful in the identification and culturing of microorganisms. It is made from red algae and can be constituted into a strong gel by heating and then cooling. Preformed gel-like agar sheets selectively enhance the growth of microalgae in defined environmental conditions.
Agar is heated and liquefied and soluble iron is added to the agar in predetermined proportions. The agar solution is also modified for salinity concentration and ph in order to conform to the levels found in the marine environment to which the agar sheets are to be introduced. This is done in order to provide a slow-time release of the iron to prevent premature precipitation.
Once formed, the gel sheets are transported to areas of the ocean by marine vessels in seagoing containers, where they are released onto the water’s surface. Microalgae growth will be initiated by the iron content and sustained and mechanically stabilized by the agar sheets. Since agar sheets float, they will remain at the surface, facilitating monitoring and mechanical control of the resulting biomass. Containment booming can be used to provide boundaries in which the sheets are located.
The production of agar sheets may be preformed at land-based production facilities or aboard marine vessels appropriately equipped with heating tanks, forming molds, etc. Agar in bulk-powdered form may be intermixed with the soluble iron solution and the seawater pumped in from “on-site”, and manufactured and distributed, potentially in assembly line fashion. It may also be possible to spray the liquid agar solution from such marine vessels directly onto the ocean surface to create a gelatinous film. The film would then become the biological growth medium around which microalgae will form and grow.
At the conclusion of the algae growth cycle, the prefabricated agar sheets may be separated from the microalgae growth at the harvesting facility and reconstituted, and the material easily recycled and reused. The recovered algae is then forwarded for processing as biodiesel.It will be desirable for the algae field to remain relatively intact during periods of rough water and wind conditions. Therefore, a method of containment will need to be employed, such as the pre-deployment of floating containment booms similar to the ones used to contain accidental oil-spills. These can be transported to the site by ship and deployed from large reels, also as is currently used in the oil-spill mitigation services industry, which creates a containment boundary to prevent the algae fields from dispersing. These flexible booms can be repeatedly repositioned to conform to the boundary line as needed and as weather conditions or seasonal current fluctuations warrant.The algae recovery procedure can be facilitated by introducing the algae growth fields to a location where relatively consistent directional ocean surface currents exist. The containment booms can be aligned along the contours of ocean current lines (somewhat parallel to the directional flow) and can then be “funneled” down to the coastal areas where the land-based algae processing facilities are located.
The surface currents would automatically transport the algae fields, like a “message in a bottle” carbon dioxide conveyor belt, to the site of the processing centers, where they can be retrieved via conveyor apparatus or pumps on-shore. The ships would only be needed to monitor the positions of the containment booms, since the booms themselves can be anchored to the ocean floor.
The South Pacific Circulation appears to surround the single largest, as well as lowest-density algae growth area in the world, about the size of the Mediterranean Sea–approx. 1,000,000 sq. mi.
This subtropical area of low-algae population appears to be a prime location to initiate establishing a continuous “conveyor belt” of algae which, by way of these counter-clockwise ocean currents, can be funneled down to land-based processing centers situated at sites, such as along the south Chilean coast. Processing centers may also be situated along the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, as well as on certain South Pacific islands, which would provide alternative production locations, should adverse conditions affect any particular host site.
The algae fields could be reshaped, or “herded”, and spiraled off, using the containment booms, from the central biomass, to areas where the south equatorial current of the South Pacific Circulation could similarly transport the algae to additional or alternative host “landing” areas.
Harvested algae can be used as a significant source of biodiesel fuel. Biodiesel production facilities on a much larger scale can be located near the source of the ocean algae harvesting operations, and should be capable of producing multi-millions of barrels of biodiesel fuel annually.
Since the raw material used in the system and method of this invention is virtually cost free, except for seeding, conveying, and harvesting expenses, and biodiesel production technology, through economies of scale, is neither complex nor labor intensive, the per liter price of the fuel should become more than competitive with petroleum based fuels, and consumer demand should increase exponentially as the ecological benefits of biodiesel become more known on a widespread basis. In fact, super-mass production volumes will be required to meet the growing demand. Since super-mass volumes of the feed material is available, biodiesel has the potential to eventually supplant most, if not all, of the current and future fossil fuel consumption on a global basis.View the patent
- +Sustainable Carbon Capture and Sequestration System and Methods
AbstractAn offshore algae farm and adjoining offshore processing station. The algae farm surrounds the processing plant and produces a flow of carbon-containing feedstock for the station. The feedstock is cultivated and harvested and then brought to the processing station where it is thermally separated to form a product gas. A series of chemical transformations of this product gas leads to various intermediary and end products which are then re-used in the process (N.sub.2, CO, CO.sub.2, H.sub.2, NaCl, Syngas, and H.sub.2O), are dispersed and sequestered back into the environment (NaHCO.sub.3, NH.sub.4Cl, vitreous slag), and are transported away from the system for use in human civilization (H2O, NH.sub.4Cl, building materials). In an alternative embodiment, the system may process feedstock materials that have been captured elsewhere and are imported into the system. In another embodiment, the system may be capturing its own feedstock and importing feedstocks, simultaneously.The system comprises a processing platform placed so as to be in relatively close proximity to both the source of input materials going into the system, and the final destination of the processed products produced by the system. The input materials required by the process are a carbon-containing feedstock, saltwater, ambient air, and natural sand. The processed products are sodium bicarbonate, ammonium chloride, fresh water, building materials, and a sodium-carbonate-slag sequestration material.
The carbon capture step comprises the cultivation of marine macro-algae and occurs in an area adjacent to the processing plant. The carbon storage occurs in the unmixed layers of the ocean which begins generally 200 meters below the surface of the ocean and at the edge of the continental shelf. The useful co-products are be delivered to the closest shipping port. The placement of the processing platform is in an offshore, coastal zone, where saltwater and sand are readily available, where an algae growing area is readily available, and where the processed products may be dispersed or delivered with the least amount of effort to their respective destinations.
Each growing-processing area includes one or more crop circles wherein the algae is grown, surrounded, by a moored, floating skirt to prevent the algal growth from separating and drifting. The growing-processing area includes a process station which includes one or more separation reactors as well as other process reactors and sub-systems.The free-floating macro-algae are cultivated by a combination of natural circulation of currents and by the surface dispersion of ammonium produced by the system. The ammonium is dispersed by the same vessels used to harvest the algae. The algae are harvested on to the vessels by means of an inclined ramp inserted obliquely into the surface growing area. The inclined ramp is equipped with automated cutting blades to prevent entanglement. The harvested material is delivered mechanically up the ramp and into the vessel’s algae hold where it is subjected to mechanical compression to both dewater the algae and create additional storage space.
Following the harvesting and dewatering, the algae are transported by the same vessels to the processing platform where they may be mixed as necessary with other feedstock materials to arrive at an optimal mass ratio.
The next stage of the process comprises the thermal separation or depolymerization of the feedstock. Thermal depolymerization is effected without combustion at high heat temperatures by plasma arch technology. The heat energy is provided by a portion of the biomass as fuel. Thermal depolymerization creates a product gas and a vitreous slag of variable composition.This product gas is separated into several derivative gas streams. Some of the product gas is diverted to a water-gas-shift reactor for the production of H.sub.2 to be used in the ammonia production stage as described further on below. N.sub.2 and CO.sub.2 are separated from the product gas using, permeable membrane technologies and are then diverted for use in the ammonia and bicarbonate stages described below. The remaining product gas is cleaned and polished to create a Syngas for process energy uses either as electricity generated by combined cycle turbines, or as bunker oil for the various transportation needs of the system, produced using Fischer-Tropsch, or other energy technologies. Heat exchange technologies are used throughout to capture and re-use waste heat.
Ammonia may be produced using the Haber process. Useful byproducts may be recovered from the Haber process. The ammonia synthesis reactants are looped over the catalyst several times, and both argon and methane tend to accumulate in the loop, requiring removal. The recovered argon may serve as an inert medium in the separation reactor. Optionally, the recovered methane may be blended into the separation step product gas for transformation into useful energy.
A constant stream of brine (concentrated sea water) is needed for sodium-bicarbonate production. For purposes of this exemplary description, conventional reverse osmosis membrane desalination may be used. The final briny water solution is supplied to the sodium-bicarbonate sub-step. In some embodiments of the invention, the remaining fresh water is available for human use, for example, both within and outside the system. Optionally, the remaining sea water is available for production (extraction) of Lithium, Uranium, and other rare elements.A modified version of the Solvay process is adapted to produce sodium-bicarbonate for sequestration.
The ammonium chloride and the sodium bicarbonate are thermo-chemically separated and diverted to their ultimate dispersion systems described in subsequent steps.The sodium bicarbonate product is mechanically injected from the processing platform into the unmixed layer of the ocean (below 200 m) through retractable tubing. The bicarbonate is expected to remain sequestered in the unmixed zone for at least 6,000 years. Alternatively, the sodium bicarbonate is taken by ship to another area where it may be injected from the ship into the unmixed layer of the ocean (below 200 m) through retractable tubing.The ammonium chloride is dispersed by the harvesting vessel to fertilize the algae crop. Any ammonium chloride not taken up by the algae will be carried by currents to other areas of the ocean where it will continue to fertilize phytoplankton and thereby increase the biomass of these areas, including possibly the biomass of higher trophic level organisms such as fish, marine mammals, and sea birds.The mobility of the processing platform means that they may be moved to other areas for other uses, similar to floating oil drill rigs today. The system may be moved to an area of excessive nutrient loading to collect and process macro-algal blooms, thereby remediating a condition of hazardous eutrophication. In another exemplary embodiment, the system may be moved to an area of marine debris to collect and process the floating trash. In another exemplary embodiment, the system may be used to process carbon that has been captured from existing power generation or industrial facilities (end of pipe capture) and been transported to the system. In other embodiments, possible non-carbon capture and sequestration uses of the system may include, for example, solid waste disposal (including sewage solids), landfill reclamation, hazardous waste disposal, water desalination, renewable energy creation (any combination of electricity, heat, liquid fuels, and/or Hydrogen), fertilizer and feeds production, metals production, lithium production, sea-water uranium extraction, building and road construction materials, or other combinations thereof. Due to this flexibility of uses, the system need not be decommissioned when, and if, the carbon capture and sequestration purpose becomes moot.View the patent
- +Systems and vessels for producing hydrocarbons and/or water, and methods for same
Rudolph Behrens, Todd Behrens, Courtney Behrens, Derek Behrens
AbstractSystems and methods for producing hydrocarbons from wind energy, water, and air in a floatable craft; also a synthetic fuel process consisting of a translucent closed tank for producing algae and a protein separator for dewatering algae.View the patent
- +Biomass production system
Jose L. Sanchez-Pina, Ramon Sanchez-Pina
AbstractA system that combines reliable and inexpensive technologies to emulate conditions at sea that are optimum for growth of micro algae biomass. The system is operable in the ocean, given the near constant water temperature and the vast area in which to deploy the system. In operation, each vessel includes a predetermined amount of micro algae utilized for the production of biomass through the introduction of various nutrients along with varying degrees of exposure to sunlight. Once the micro algae is introduced into the vessels , the vessels are submerged in the water at a depth that provides the amount of sunlight necessary for optimal growth of the micro algae. The light-sensing device on the array of vessels constantly measures the amount of sunlight penetrating each vessel and relays the measurement to the depth control processing unit to determine whether the depth of the vessels must be adjusted. Over the course of a day, the position of the sun changes thereby affecting the amount of sunlight reaching each vessel at a specific depth, therefore it is preferable to raise and lower the vessels to maintain a constant amount of light penetrating the vessels thus ensuring optimal growth conditions throughout the course of a day.View the patent
- +Method and apparatus for robotic ccean farming for food and energy
Wilcox; Brian H.
AbstractA method for ocean farming comprising the steps of providing a plant support grid and a submersible towing system with boats having means for navigation of the support grid in the open ocean, and means for positioning of the support grid in a first surfaced position for sunlight exposure of the plants and a second submerged position at a depth for a nutrient rich layer above the bottom for nutrient gathering by the plants; positioning the plant support grid in a predetermined operating sailing pattern; submerging the plant support grid in the night-time by allowing water to enter ballast tanks of each boat until penetration of a boundary to the nutrient-rich layer allowing the plants engaged to the farm support structure to infuse the nutrients; surfacing the plant support grid at approximately dawn; and navigating the plant support grid on the surface to allow photosynthesis by the plants on the support grid.
The overall system envisioned includes the individual farms collectively operating with respect to a control and harvesting/replenishing system that would include communications and control stations and harvesting stations which would be similar to processing ships used in large fishing fleets. The harvesting stations would remain at or travel to centralized locations where the individual farms would collect at predetermined time intervals. The predetermined courses of the farms are anticipated to result in circuits running out from and returning to the harvesting stations. The navigational planning for the circuits will include assisting ocean current data and will be recalculated during the voyages by the control systems on the individual farms and/or input from the centralized control stations. The plants affixed to the rope grids would be harvested with the bio-matter obtained transferred to the harvesting station for processing and/or transport. If harvesting methods are employed which do not compromise the attachment and body of the plants on the grid, the farm returns to its predetermined sailing station for the next growth cycle. If harvesting results in complete removal of the mature plants from the grid, the harvesting station “replants” the farm by attachment of immature plant “seedlings” to the grid. The farm then commences its voyage to create new plant growth. The harvesting station is then either sailed to an off-loading port or specific transportation ships off-load the bio-mass from the harvesting station for transport to the off-loading port. The generated bio-mass is then available for processing as energy feedstock or food stuffs.View the patent
- +Bio-mass farming system and method
Minoo Homi Patel, Feargal Brennan, Naresh Magan
AbstractBio-mass farming system comprising a plurality of repositories for growing algae strains offshore. Each repository is a discrete location at which bio-mass can be grown and from which it can subsequently be harvested. Since both repositories and harvesting apparatus are located offshore, it does not use either land or land-based water sources. Rather, the system can be located anywhere on the ocean, sea or lake and advantageously out of sight from land.
Moreover, such a system may be more cost-effective to implement since the harvesting apparatus, which is complex and expensive, only needs capacity sufficient to process at least one but not all of the total number of repositories at any one time, typically only those repositories that are ready for harvesting. As a result, it may be possible to construct, at acceptable cost, large systems able to produce large volume rates of bio-mass. This bio-mass can serve as a means of sequestering atmospheric and dissolved seawater carbon dioxide and of producing high value bio-plastics, bio fuels and other farmed products.
The repositories may be receptacles for the bio-mass and possibly a growth medium therefor. The bio-mass may include macro- or micro-algal species. In one embodiment, the bio-mass are micro-algae having a growth cycle (from seeding to harvest) of three to seven days.
A bio-mass farming system comprising a central processing facility, surrounded by groups (or `clusters`) of repositories or `pods`. The pods are interlocked to form compliant floating `mats` which serve as receptacles for the bio-mass. Tugs are used to periodically transport strings of pods to the production facility for harvesting and then returning harvested, re-seeded pods back to their clusters.
The repeatable, inter-connectable bio-mass production pods are used as growth receptacles for micro-algal and macro-algal species.
The pods are structures, hexagonal in plan form. The purpose of the pods is to house and serve as a receptacle for a volume of growth medium within which a micro-algal species mix can grow rapidly. The pods are made up as structures stiffened by space frames made up of members, which hold up a buoyant perimeter structure. The stiffening structure extends between diametrically opposite points on the peripheral structure, the struts extent between opposed vertices of the hexagonal plan form.
Each pod has devices on its vertices to enable it to be compliantly connected to other pods so that they can be co-located in a cluster and to be closed packed. The hexagonal shape of the pods ensures that, when interlaced, they do not lose any plan area in the overall geometry, in contrast to truly circular pods. The pods have means for manual access to monitor and maintain its functions together with facilities for handling, towing, mooring and managing them.
The farming system is based around a central processing facility. This is a floating or bottom mounted structure, with several specific physical attributes. The facility has a shaped channel, or quays, at which the standard pods would be brought in. For micro-algae, the harvesting and reseeding is done by fluid-handling machinery combined with filters, separators and de-watering equipment located on the central processing facility.
For micro-algae growth pods, the treatment channels, on the processing facility have suction arms and pumping machinery to harvest the algae mass and transport the contents to a processing plant on the facility. Further along the channels, other treatment arms have cleaning, re-seeding and measurement functions so that each algal pod can be configured to re-start its growth cycle after it is returned to its cluster.
The facility is installed with machinery to process the algal bio-mass ready for transportation to end users. For the micro-algal bio-mass this entails filtering, de-watering, treating, drying and compressing the bio-mass, which can then be packaged or baled ready for transportation by ship from the processing facility.View the patent
- +Systems and methods for off-shore energy production and carbon dioxide sequestration
Mark E. Capron
AbstractAquatic systems and methods for off-shore energy production, particularly for generating large amounts of methane via anaerobic digestion, purifying the methane produced, and sequestering environmentally deleterious by-products such as carbon dioxide. The energy production systems contain flexible, inflatable containers supported by water, an anaerobic digester containing bacteria which can produce energy sources such as methane or hydrogen from aquatic plants or animals. The containers can be large enough to provide adequate amounts of energy to support off-shore activities and relatively easy to manufacture and ship to remote production sites. The systems can also be readily adapted to sequester carbon dioxide or replenish feedstocks for growing nutrients on site.View the patent
- +Biodiesel synthesis
Owen Matthew Davies, Richard David Jackson
AbstractBecause a large amount of the raw material for biofuel generation is grown in one country and then shipped to another country, the raw material spends a large amount of time on board ship. This time can be used for converting the raw material into biodiesel. Use of highly compact and intense biodiesel reactor systems on board ships reduces the total time required for conversion from crop to finished product as the delivery time is used to process the oil into biodiesel and the biodiesel can then be delivered directly to existing infrastructure in the importing country such as dock or port based refineries and or tank storage facilities. This allows feedstock to be imported and processed from the tropics or other regions where strong sun light is encountered so worldwide feedstock can be economically and renewable accessed by the high use population within the developed and developing worlds. &ubsp
Other benefits in shifting the process plant to on board the ship is that the methanol required to process the oil during the ship’s travel back from collecting the oil can be collected from the refineries where the biodiesel is delivered, as it will tend to be either stored within these facilities in significant quantities or made there during other refining processes, using methane gas. &ubsp
Benefits and technologies that have been developed for exploiting oil and gas reserves from regions where the quantities available do not justify the building of wharfs, piers and other extremely expensive conventional port system can also be used. These including rotationally calm buoy systems that act as offshore unloading stations whilst being permanently moored to the sea bed and connected to a suitable oil production facility on land. Such systems can be used to offload natural oil to awaiting ships for either transport to importing countries for land based processing or transport and processing on process plant onboard the ships. &ubsp
This concept of utilizing low cost shore access system allows significant areas of the world to be considered for cultivation for renewable feedstock plants by removing one of the main hurdles from the economic equation, being “how far from conventional transport infrastructure is the feedstock located.” &ubsp
Other benefits of the ship based process facility are; biodiesel plant could be brought into port to provide capacity or increase existing capacity anywhere within the world at very short notice if the ship already exists. This concept allows plant including its own primary tank farm storage to be built in low cost locations and delivered quickly to site reducing time to market and associated time constraint and regulatory and land costs. Biodiesel processing ships could be rotationally turret moored or spread moored just off shore from the feedstock export port providing a semi-permanent floating production and storage facility for virgin oil and fat storage and processing, and final biodiesel storage and off-loading to delivery ships through stern to bow or side to side tethering and offloading arrangements.View the patent
- +Floating biomass producing system
- US7921595Robert J. Monson, Howard J. Schantz Original Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
AbstractA water based biomass producing system that is disposed in a body of water, for example a freshwater lake or a sea, and is capable of producing a biomass that can be converted into a biofuel. The system relies on a pool of freshwater that is suspended in the body of water to grow the biomass. The pool is contained within a flexible polymeric membrane that is impermeable to the water of the body of water. The membrane is suspended in the body of water by a float. A filtration system is connected to the float that has an inlet that is for introduction of water from the body of water and an outlet that is for discharging freshwater into the pool. A biomass extractor is provided to harvest the biomass from the freshwater pool. The harvested biomass can then be converted into a biofuel.View the patent
- +Open ocean floating algae farm
Project OASIS is looking to highlight innovative ocean aquaculture or algae-related projects in its next round of case studies. Since our investigation is still in its early stages, we are also interested in hearing your ideas for future directions of research, complementary investigations, as well as potential grants and funding opportunities for entrepreneurs in these areas.