Science & Technology

Seaweed Farms in River Estuaries Can Significantly Reduce Nitrogen Concentrations and Prevent Environmental Pollution

The cultivation reactor that was used as the bottom of the mannequin. Credit score: Meiron Zollmann

A brand new research by Tel Aviv College and College of California, Berkeley proposes a mannequin in keeping with which the institution of seaweed farms in river estuaries considerably reduces nitrogen concentrations in the estuary and prevents air pollution in estuarine and marine environments. The research was headed by doctoral pupil Meiron Zollmann, beneath the joint supervision of Prof. Alexander Golberg of the Porter College of Environmental and Earth Sciences and Prof. Alexander Liberzon of the College of Mechanical Engineering on the Iby and Aladar Fleischman School of Engineering, Tel Aviv College. The research was performed in collaboration with Prof. Boris Rubinsky of the School of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley. The research was revealed in the celebrated journal Communications Biology.

As a part of the research, the researchers constructed a big seaweed farm mannequin for rising the ulva sp. inexperienced macroalgae in the Alexander River estuary, a whole lot of meters from the open sea. The Alexander River was chosen as a result of the river discharges polluting nitrogen from close by upstream fields and cities into the Mediterranean Sea. Knowledge for the mannequin had been collected over two years from managed cultivation research.

Researchers clarify that nitrogen is a vital fertilizer for agriculture, however it comes with an environmental price ticket. As soon as nitrogen reaches the ocean, it disperses randomly, damaging numerous ecosystems. Consequently, the state and native authorities spend a substantial amount of cash on decreasing nitrogen concentrations in water, following nationwide and worldwide conventions that restrict nitrogen loading in the oceans, together with in the Mediterranean Sea.

“My laboratory researches fundamental processes and develops applied sciences for aquaculture,” explains Prof. Golberg. “We’re growing applied sciences for rising seaweed in the ocean in order to offset carbon and extract numerous substances, akin to proteins and starches, to supply a marine different to terrestrial agricultural manufacturing. On this research, we confirmed that if seaweed is grown in keeping with the mannequin we developed, in rivers’ estuaries, they’ll take in the nitrogen to evolve to environmental requirements and stop its dispersal in water and thus neutralize environmental air pollution. On this method, we truly produce a sort of “pure decontamination facility” with important ecological and financial worth since seaweed could be offered as biomass for human use.

The researchers add that the mathematical mannequin predicts farm yields and hyperlinks seaweed yield and chemical composition to nitrogen focus in the estuary.  “Our mannequin permits marine farmers, in addition to authorities and environmental our bodies, to know, in advance, what the impression might be and what the merchandise of a giant seaweed farm might be – earlier than organising the precise farm,” provides Meiron Zollman. “Due to arithmetic, we all know how one can make the changes additionally regarding giant agricultural farms and maximize environmental advantages, together with producing the agriculturally desired protein portions.”

“You will need to perceive that the entire world is transferring in direction of inexperienced power, and seaweed generally is a important supply,” provides Prof. Liberzon, “and but in the present day, there is no such thing as a single farm with the confirmed technological and scientific functionality. The boundaries listed here are additionally scientific: We don’t actually know what the impression of an enormous farm might be on the marine setting. It’s like transitioning from a vegetable backyard outdoors the home to countless fields of commercial farming. Our mannequin supplies among the solutions, hoping to persuade decision-makers that such farms might be worthwhile and environmentally pleasant. Moreover, one can think about much more far-reaching eventualities. For instance, inexperienced power: “If we knew how one can make the most of the expansion charges for power in higher percentages, it could be potential to embark on a one-year cruise with a kilogram of seaweed, with no further gas past the manufacturing of biomass in a marine setting.”

“The attention-grabbing connection we provide right here is rising seaweed on the expense of nitrogen remedy,” concludes Prof. Golberg. “In actual fact, we have now developed a planning device for organising seaweed farms in estuaries to handle each environmental issues whereas producing financial profit. We provide the design of seaweed farms in river estuaries containing giant portions of agriculturally associated nitrogen residues to rehabilitate the estuary and stop nitrogen from reaching the ocean whereas rising the seaweed itself for meals. On this method, aquaculture enhances terrestrial agriculture.”

Reference: “Multi-scale modeling of intensive macroalgae cultivation and marine nitrogen sequestration” by Meiron Zollmann, Boris Rubinsky, Alexander Liberzon and Alexander Golberg, 7 July 2021, Communications Biology.
DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-02371-z

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