Ongoing algae biofuel research and development is yielding the prospect of applications beyond the production of biofuels. Work on realizing algae biofuel breakthroughs, OriginOil announced this week it had developed new technology that could literally help clean up the aquaculture industry.
Los Angeles-based OriginOil says its Solids Out of a Solution (SOS) technology “could help the aquaculture industry reduce toxin levels and adopt algae as fish feed on a wide scale,” according to a company press release. Looking to build upon successful lab testing, OriginOil is going into partnership with Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based aquaculture company WeFeedUs “to test and validate OriginOil’s proprietary water decontamination and algae harvesting technologies for aquaculture systems in the field.”
Eliminating ammonia, bacteria fast, without chemicals
Testing its SOS water decontamination system in the lab, OriginOil reduced the ammonia content of water from approximately 30 parts per million (ppm), more than 12-times the limit for optimal fish production, to less than 0.25 ppm in three minutes without the use of chemicals,” a reduction of more than 99 percent, the company stated in its press release.
The lab results were good enough to persuade WeFeedUs to partner with OriginOil in efforts to control the ammonia and bacteria produced in the aquaculture company’s production ponds and increase the scale of its algae production.
WeFeedUs also intends to apply its expertise in sustainable aquaponics and leverage its relationships with local universities to certify the effectiveness of OriginOil’s in reducing the environmental impact and increasing the profitability of aquaculture operations.
Aquaculture already accounts for nearly half of global fish food supply, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), OriginOil and WeFeedUs point out, while over-exploitation of ocean fishing grounds is driving the percentage higher. “The advantages of feeding algae to aquaculture species include increased growth and improved nutritional value in the fish due to the high content of Omega3s in many algae species, they contend.
Cleaning Up Aquaculture
As promising as aquaculture can be in terms of increasing seafood supplies and offering people around the world greater, more affordable access to sources of protein and other nutrition, aquaculture operations, such as salmon and shrimp farming, have also resulted in significant environmental pollution and degradation and threats to human health, as well as corrupt practices that have seen big investor groups, in concert with government officials, deprive poorer residents of their land and traditional livelihoods.
“Murky Waters: Shrimp Farming in Bangladesh,” a documentary available online via LinkTV chronicles the plight of subsistence farmers whose traditional farm and pasture lands and livelihoods have been decimated by development of shrimp farms.
The OriginOil-WeFeedUs partnership might go a long way toward improving the aquaculture industry’s track record, a development that would be most welcome and contribute significantly to meeting growing demand for food and alleviating poverty while also conserving ecosystems and habitat. National governments around the world have pledged to address these issues as part of multilateral environmental and sustainable development agreements, such as the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“Using OriginOil technology, WeFeedUs believes it may be able to accelerate aquaculture research and development and, ultimately, advance the commercialization of a proprietary Algal inclusion, high-protein, high-value, specialty fish feed,” co-founder and principal Mike Andrus was quoted as saying. “It could also help remove excess ammonia, fertilizers and chemicals from water, reduce the use of antibiotics, and decrease mortality rates.”
Added OriginOil CEO Riggs Eckelberry, “In 2010, the fast-growing global aquaculture industry farmed 60 million tons of fish with a market value of more than $119 billion, but heavy toxin levels limit growth and are unhealthy for the fish and the environment.
“We believe that we may be able to do something about that. We also believe that we may be able to help this industry adopt algae for feed on a much greater scale. It’s one of many secondary licensing opportunities for OriginOil technologies outside the energy industry and believe this is a potential game-changer for the global fish farming industry.”