Ocean Forests: Breakthrough Yields for Macroalgae
Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory
The US Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) MacroAlgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Research (MARINER) program is encouraging technologies for the sustainable harvest of large funding research of macroalgae for biofuels at less than $80 per dry metric ton (DMT). The Ocean Forests team, led by the University of Southern Mississippi, is developing a complete managed ecosystem where nutrients are transformed and recycled. The team's designs address major bottlenecks in profitability of offshore aquaculture systems including economical moored structures that can withstand storms, efficient planting, managing and harvesting systems, and sustainable nutrient supply. The work is inspired by Lapointe  who reported yields of Gracilaria tikvahiae equivalent to 127 DMT per hectare per year (compared with standard aquaculture systems in the range of 20 to 40 DMT/ha/yr). This approach offers the potential for breakthrough yields for many macroalgae species. Moreover, mini-ecosystems in offshore waters create communities of macroalgae, shellfish, and penned finfish, supplemented by visiting free-range fish that can increase productivity, produce quality products, and create jobs and income for aquafarmers. Additional benefits include reduced disease in fish pens, cleaning contaminated coastal waters, and maximizing nutrient recycling. Cost projections for a successful, intensive, scaled system are competitive with current prices for fossil fuels.
Oceans 2018 MTS/IEEE Charleston
Capron, M. E.,
Chambers, M. D.,
Stewart, J. R.,
DiMarco, S. F.,
James, S. C.,
Kruger-Hadfield, S. A.,
De N'Yeurt, A. R.,
(2019). Ocean Forests: Breakthrough Yields for Macroalgae. Oceans 2018 MTS/IEEE Charleston.
Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/fac_pubs/15807