Those who have ventured to turn a vacant barn or garage into an aquaculture business have too often been defeated by high energy and feed costs, building-related woes and serious environmental problems, says aquaculture researcher Andy Danylchuk at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Now he and colleagues are melding building design, fish ecology and aquaculture engineering techniques into a first-of-its-kind "building-integrated aquaculture" (BIAq) model to offer an affordable, more holistic and sustainable approach to indoor fish production located close to markets and able to succeed even in cold climates. Their ideas are outlined in the current issue of ASHRAE Journal, published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
As Danylchuk explains, typically when a small-scale entrepreneur starts up an aquaculture operation, he or she installs tanks and plumbing in an old chicken barn, for example. "But that’s like building a house with no regard for the occupants’ comfort or their utility budget," he says. In fact, studies show over 75 percent of total energy demands in the United States are due to building operations.
"Our team began looking at renewable energy systems to make power more affordable, and how fish farm waste streams can become plant food rather than an environmental headache. If you start by taking the building into consideration, these operations might actually become economically feasible," the fish ecologist adds.
The need for local aquaculture is clear, he and fellow UMass Amherst Building-Integrated Aquaculture Working Group members James Webb and green building expert Simi Hoque point out. Due to declining wild fish stocks and environmental degradation, fish farms now account for nearly 40 percent of the world’s total fisheries production and it’s growing.
Further, "while per capita seafood consumption has already reached record levels in the United States, recent USDA recommendations suggest more than twice this amount for a healthy lifestyle. Achieving this goal represents a significant challenge considering approximately 85 percent of U.S. seafood is imported and nearly half of this comes from overseas aquaculture production." These imports are tainted by food security and quality issues as well as considerable environmental drawbacks and financial costs of global transportation.
The BIAq team therefore set out to design a practical model for small businesses to help them produce good quality, local seafood with a modest investment of cash, low energy use, low greenhouse gas emissions, low waste/environmental damage and at prices consumers can afford. Their model dovetails systems to maximize energy efficiency and aquaculture operations by simultaneously addressing humidity, condensation, airflow, water flow, waste stream recovery, passive and renewable energy and worker health and safety.
For example, the BIAq model calls for recirculating fish tank wastewater through a step-wise filter system to remove waste and food residue and re-use the dissolved carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients as fertilizer in a hydroponic garden. In this way, wastewater is cleaned and recirculated back to the fish, while supporting a cash-crop such as herbs or garden greens attractive to consumers, and diverting wastewater from the environment.
Using a solar water-heating system can dramatically cut energy costs, as well. Another synergistic benefit can be gained by using heat pumps and exchangers, package refrigeration and condensation units to complement each other in controlling humidity and warming the atmosphere in an operation that is water-vapor intensive. Even small changes such as locating supply air ducts to the ceiling to allow air to move over interior walls helps to prevent moisture accumulation and mitigate high humidity, the authors point out.
"We identify areas where a BIAq approach might increase efficiency and reduce operating costs. Our focus is on processes and design decisions that have the greatest potential for energy conservation in the heavily populated temperate regions of the world." They add, "Climate control is a major challenge for indoor recirculating aquaculture systems, and continuing to ignore the design of the building envelope will result in inefficiencies and higher costs."
The authors hope that framing the development of recirculating aquaponics facilities as a holistic and synergistic systems-based endeavor will enable a robust analysis of the environmental, social and economic benefits that will make fish production more sustainable.
This work was supported by the Allen Family Foundation, the USDA’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture, the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station and Department of Environmental Conservation and the Clarence and Anne Dillon Dunwalke Trust.
Janet Lathrop | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Amherst > Building Technologies > Farming > aquaculture engineering techniques > building design > cold climate > environmental problem > financial cost > fish ecology > fish farm waste streams > fish stock > fish tank wastewater > gas emission > greenhouse gas emission > renewable energy > waste stream
New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
21.04.2017 | Cornell University
New rice fights off drought
04.04.2017 | RIKEN
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences