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

Cultivation Reactor

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 within the estuary and prevents air pollution in estuarine and marine environments. The research was headed by doctoral pupil Meiron Zollmann, underneath 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 College of Engineering, Tel Aviv College. The research was performed in collaboration with Prof. Boris Rubinsky of the College of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley. The research was printed within the prestigious journal Communications Biology.

As a part of the research, the researchers constructed a big seaweed farm mannequin for rising the ulva sp. inexperienced macroalgae within the Alexander River estuary, tons of 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. Information for the mannequin had been collected over two years from managed cultivation research.

Researchers clarify that nitrogen is a needed fertilizer for agriculture, nevertheless it comes with an environmental price ticket. As soon as nitrogen reaches the ocean, it disperses randomly, damaging varied ecosystems. In consequence, 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 within the oceans, together with within the Mediterranean Sea.

“My laboratory researches primary processes and develops applied sciences for aquaculture,” explains Prof. Golberg. “We’re creating applied sciences for rising seaweed within the ocean to be able to offset carbon and extract varied substances, reminiscent of proteins and starches, to supply a marine various 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 up the nitrogen to adapt to environmental requirements and stop its dispersal in water and thus neutralize environmental air pollution. On this manner, we truly produce a type of “pure decontamination facility” with important ecological and financial worth since seaweed will 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 within the estuary.  “Our mannequin permits marine farmers, in addition to authorities and environmental our bodies, to know, upfront, what the affect can be and what the merchandise of a giant seaweed farm can be – earlier than establishing the precise farm,” provides Meiron Zollman. “Due to arithmetic, we all know tips on how to make the changes additionally regarding massive agricultural farms and maximize environmental advantages, together with producing the agriculturally desired protein portions.”

“You will need to perceive that the entire world is shifting in direction of inexperienced power, and seaweed could be a important supply,” provides Prof. Liberzon, “and but as we speak, there isn’t any single farm with the confirmed technological and scientific functionality. The obstacles listed here are additionally scientific: We don’t actually know what the affect of an enormous farm can be on the marine surroundings. It’s like transitioning from a vegetable backyard exterior the home to limitless fields of business farming. Our mannequin offers a number of the solutions, hoping to persuade decision-makers that such farms can be worthwhile and environmentally pleasant. Moreover, one can think about much more far-reaching eventualities. For instance, inexperienced power: “If we knew tips on how to make the most of the expansion charges for power in higher percentages, it might be attainable to embark on a one-year cruise with a kilogram of seaweed, with no extra gas past the manufacturing of biomass in a marine surroundings.”

“The fascinating connection we provide right here is rising seaweed on the expense of nitrogen remedy,” concludes Prof. Golberg. “In reality, we have now developed a planning instrument for establishing seaweed farms in estuaries to handle each environmental issues whereas producing financial profit. We provide the design of seaweed farms in river estuaries containing massive 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 manner, 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 | Seaweed Farms in River Estuaries Can Considerably Cut back Nitrogen Concentrations and Forestall Environmental Air pollution


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