Energy and feed costs have been identified as two of the key issues facing the future growth of aquaculture – a technology which must grow if the world’s human population is going to increase without exhausting natural fisheries. That’s where companies like OriginOil come in. We’ve been following OriginOil’s energy-wise progress in the algae biofuel arena, and given the connection between algae and fish feed, it was only a matter of time before the company applied its technology to sustainable fish farming.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at OriginOil’s new showcase for aquaculture at the Salton Sea in California, which is due for a public launch on Wednesday, December 18.
The OriginOil Sustainable Aquaculture Showcase
OriginOil announced the Salton Sea project last July in partnership with the company Aqua Farming Technology, using Aqua Farming’s existing 120-acre farm at the Salton Sea in Coachella, California as a platform.
Specifically, the fish farm will provide a permanent showcase for OriginOil’s Electro Water Separation™ (EWS) process. While more familiar to us as a high efficiency way to dewater algae in large volumes without chemical additives, the process has also proven to be effective on industrial waste (specifically, oil and gas fracking waste).
As applied to fish farms, EWS is an energy efficient process that enables farmers to harvest algae at a high rate of speed and “pelletize” it for use as fish feed, in addition to providing a healthier environment for fish by removing ammonia from growing ponds and killing aquatic pathogens.
EWS works in two stages. In the first stage, electrical impulses make suspended solids clump together. In the second stage, another level of electrical impulse create microbubbles that make the coagulated impurities rise to the surface, where they are easily skimmed off.
The Aqua Farming facility will provide OriginOil with the opportunity to demonstrate its process at commercial scale. As a permanent showcase and demonstration facility it will also provide OriginOil with the opportunity to move its future innovations more rapidly out of the lab and into the market.
Aquaculture and economic revitalization
The Coachella location also illustrates the power of sustainable innovation to provide for economic development without necessarily involving the risks and impacts typical of fossil fuel harvesting.
As described in OriginOil’s press materials for the new partnership, aquaculture in the Coachella Valley has been languishing of late, and a more sustainable, cost-effective, and energy efficient approach could be just the thing to get things moving again.
Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia optimistically states:
As mayor of this community, I am deeply interested in anything that can help us rebuild a local fish farming industry that has suffered from the high cost of energy and feed,” said Eduardo Garcia, Mayor of Coachella. “I look forward to seeing what breakthrough technology can accomplish.
All optimism aside, it’s important to note that the Salton Sea is under significant stress on a number of fronts, including increasing salinity and nutrient load. The real test of the new showcase will be its ability to demonstrate that the area’s aquaculture industry can grow without adding more fuel to the fire.
Solar power and sustainable aquaculture
Another interesting area of confluence between OriginOil and aquaculture is the use of solar energy. Ideally, OriginOil’s system is powered by on site solar panels, and Aqua Farming has been using solar power at its main farm in Thermal since 2011. Last year the company announced plans for another array at its Mecca farm, too.
OriginOil has also developed a transportable algae growing system based on standard shipping containers, which uses lenses to channel solar energy into growing ponds. That enables the use of deeper, more productive ponds that use less energy and take up less land area.
The showcase is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec.18 at Aqua Farming Tech, 89635 Avenue 81 in Thermal, California. If you’re interested in stopping by, visit the OriginOil website and fill out a form at originoil.com/showcase.
[Image (cropped): by jster91]