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Giant kelp farms to save the world!


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#21 mistermack

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 12:19 PM

Ken, I agree that solar and wind are getting closer to fossil in price, and they are indeed saving a chunk of carbon going into the atmosphere. However, I really doubt that they will ever replace enough fossil to reverse the trend of rising CO2 in the atmosphere.

 

Like planting trees, they aren't enough, but make a contribution. But your point about trees eventually returning carbon to the atmosphere isn't really valid. Of course that will happen, but if you plant long lived trees, it will be in about 2 to 300 years.

By that time, by your own reasoning, fossil fuels will be long extinct and renewables will be super efficient, and generating all the power we need.

Also, quality wood gets used, and might keep the carbon out of circulation for yet another hundred years.

And the rest can be used in wood burners, instead of dug-up fossil fuel.

 

To say that trees can't replace this or that, and therefor are not worth bothering with, could be said today about wind and solar.

Because the global demand keeps rising, wind and solar aren't going to replace fossil. They will replace SOME.

But CO2 will keep rising in the atmosphere for probably the next fifty years at least. Because of rising demand in the poorer countries.

 

I personally have more confidence in fusion than you. It's a shame that they aren't putting more money into it to speed it up.

I won't live to see it, but it will eventually be providing all the power we need, I'm sure of that. 

In the next fifty years, at the current rate of investment, it won't. But long-term, talking 100 years plus, it will.

Investment will take off, once the big doubts start to reduce.


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#22 Eclipse

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Posted 7 February 2017 - 11:33 PM

Hi all,
I found the answer. Let me summarise!
 
Seaweed farms could revolutionise the world. 2% of the world's oceans are nutrient rich enough for these farms. Nutrients come from coastal erosion or oceanic upwelling. Sometimes there is nutrient pollution which causes algal blooms and dead zones. Seaweed farming can help mop up excess nutrients and restore ocean health. A new vertical column method of farming the oceans grows both kelp and shellfish and oysters and even encourages fisheries to grow in an ocean ecosystem based approach. Watch this 15 minute TED talk about seaweed feeding the world, and even bringing some of that seaweed back up onto our farmlands to help our farmers.
Many seaweeds are a rich source of vegetarian super-food in their own right, and help form a whole variety of seaweed ice-creams, salads, sauces, and other food ingredients. Kelp farms also stimulate ocean ecosystems, and there are a variety of oysters and shellfish and even wild fish that will grow in amongst the kelp farms. We could feed the world from a small fraction of the 2% of the world's oceans that have their own nutrients. Not that we would be limited to only seaweed and seafood! Think of all the seaweed fertiliser this industry could grow.We could grow so much seaweed that we bring some onto land, get the salt out, and use it as fertiliser. Seaweed could bring our soils back to life. There is even a special seaweed that cows love and eliminates their methane burps! Methane burps are bad news, and cattle lose 15% of their growth to these energy losing burps. But a special seaweed cuts their burps by 99%, solving cattle's infamous methane climate emissions, *and* helping the cows grow faster!
Now here's where it gets really bizarre, and potentially planet-saving. Some peer-reviewed work has been done imagining extending kelp farming out into the nutrient-poor open ocean. They start farming the nutrient rich waters. Then a previous season's kelp is biodigested to collect methane gas out the top, leaving the digested kelp nutrients behind. They then recycle those nutrients out in nutrient poor waters. They use slow drip feed hoses and 'tea-bags' that slowly fertilise the kelp, extending the kelp farms out into what was nutrient poor water. This means that nutrients are not a limit to where we can grow kelp!
What if we really went crazy and farmed about 9% of the world's oceans this way?
It would give:-
* a world of 10 billion people half a kilogram of seafood per person per day!
* all the biofuels and biogas we could need to backup a renewable grid (and this is coming from someone who is usually pro-nuclear because of the intermittency and unreliability of renewables!)
* remove ocean acidity 
* restore our atmosphere to 350ppm by 2085
In other words, seaweed is a silver bullet to feed the world, save the oceans, and save us from climate change, all in this free PDF. "Negative carbon via Ocean Afforestation". Just register, and download it for free.

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#23 mistermack

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 10:31 AM

I'm quite sold on that. I've always felt that there's huge potential in the oceans, as most of the ocean areas are literally unproductive desert, due to lack of nutrients.

The main problem would be getting the nutrients there, and keeping them there, in the areas with low nutrient levels.

I favour stirring up the ocean floor, and pumping the cloudy water up to the surface.

 

Ocean storms would also be a problem. But if people are doing it now, and making money, then that is the proof of the pudding.

 

What if it took off in a big way? Would we end up with too little CO2 and too much oxygen? You never know !


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#24 Moontanman

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 04:10 PM

I'm quite sold on that. I've always felt that there's huge potential in the oceans, as most of the ocean areas are literally unproductive desert, due to lack of nutrients.

The main problem would be getting the nutrients there, and keeping them there, in the areas with low nutrient levels.

I favour stirring up the ocean floor, and pumping the cloudy water up to the surface.

 

Ocean storms would also be a problem. But if people are doing it now, and making money, then that is the proof of the pudding.

 

What if it took off in a big way? Would we end up with too little CO2 and too much oxygen? You never know !

 

 

I would propose using air pumps to bring cold nutrient rich deep sea water to the surface, it could be tested at a small scale in a limited area to see what effects it might have... 


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#25 mistermack

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Posted 11 February 2017 - 10:48 AM

 

 

I would propose using air pumps to bring cold nutrient rich deep sea water to the surface, it could be tested at a small scale in a limited area to see what effects it might have... 

I'm guessing you would run into problems using air. It's not very energy efficient compressing air to the sort of pressures that exist at the bottom of the ocean. 

My idea would be to adapt a ship to pump a jet of water at the bed, stirring up the silt, and then suck it up to the surface with another pump. You only have the friction in the pipe to overcome, so it shouldn't be too costly in energy. You could maybe use wave motion to power the pump.


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#26 Eclipse

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 07:40 AM

Like I said, if governments are seriously looking at carbon capture and storage, planting trees is the most economic way they could do it. It's not going to remove all the carbon in the environment, it's just one way of contributing. A very cheap way. One acorn grows an oak in 200 years that removes 4 tons of carbon. And has a cash value at the end of it.

You don't have to plant over farmland, you just plant on empty land and hedgerows.

The scale is the problem here. To REALLY sequester our annual CO2 emissions would require the ENTIRE Sahara and ENTIRE Australian outback. The cost of desalinating enough water to even drip irrigate this area is enormous... and this is coming from me, a fan of the idea that has it on his blog!

https://eclipsenow.w.../green-deserts/


OK, so vat-grown meat is a thing.
 
But what if the feedstock is unsustainable? Could we use processed kelp as a feedstock for all our meat and chicken and turkey needs, so that we would never have to kill real live animals for protein again? Anyone know any biochemists that might work in this field?

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#27 mistermack

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Posted 26 February 2017 - 11:17 AM

HI Eclipse, great links.

I agree about the scale. However, just because you can't do it all, doesn't mean you should not bother.

For instance, it's often said that you need XXX number of wind turbines, to replace fossil carbon. That's true, but it's not a reason for not using SOME wind turbines.

 

I'm reacting to what I think is a loony idea, of sequestering CO2 underground.

I think any money spent in that direction would be better spent on long-lived trees, that's all. You would fix more carbon for your money, and create a growing asset, not a liability.


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#28 Eclipse

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 12:13 AM

To grow Kelp in the deep ocean, you would need some kind of anchorage for it. That would have to be some floating device that supported some kind of submerged plastic netting. That would have to be extremely robust to survive a storm.

Then there's the problem of nutrients, I doubt if you could get much of a  yield without some kind of upwelling.

I think it's a non-starter, on cost grounds. The infrastructure costs would be enormous, and the returns tiny.


My own suggestion for capturing carbon using the oceans would be to pump up nutrients from the sea floor to the surface.

You would then get huge plankton blooms, where once there was ocean desert. This would provide a huge increase in fish stocks, which could finance the operation, and the plankton would be producing hard shells, which would sink to the ocean floor, locking carbon in the carbonates for many thousands of years.

 

This happens naturally, wherever there is a natural upwelling. We would just be replicating that in areas of ocean desert.

Great point! If it's more energy efficient to just pump the nutrients up from the ocean floor, maybe giant solar or nuclear powered oil platforms could do this out in the deep and get the world's CO2 down that way! But which would be more economical: the traditional iron-ore fertilisation, or the deep pump?


HI Eclipse, great links.

I agree about the scale. However, just because you can't do it all, doesn't mean you should not bother.

For instance, it's often said that you need XXX number of wind turbines, to replace fossil carbon. That's true, but it's not a reason for not using SOME wind turbines.

 

I'm reacting to what I think is a loony idea, of sequestering CO2 underground.

I think any money spent in that direction would be better spent on long-lived trees, that's all. You would fix more carbon for your money, and create a growing asset, not a liability.

I think we're on the same page then. I love all tree farms, especially the longer term vision required for hardwood tree farms. Some of the before and after photos are truly inspiring.


The potential of more traditional kelp farming from the nutrient rich areas of the ocean is amazing.

 

The world’s oceans are 361.9 million km2.
2% of them are nutrient rich enough to grow kelp in.
 
That’s 7.2 million km2 of potential kelp farms.
 
But the area to feed the world only requires 180,000 km2.
 
So we have about 40 times the nutrient rich area to farm kelp than we need to feed the world. 
 
Not only that, I'm currently investigating whether kelp farming could also act as a biomass feedstock for the vat-grown meats that are starting to come down in price and will soon be competitive with normal meat from animals.http://www.nextbigfu...ve-dropped.html

Kelp could also be biocharred to help improve soil quality, which would reduce the water and nutrients required to grow our crops.

The bottom line? Could kelp be the silver bullet that will fertilise all our cereal crop agricultural needs and replace all our grazing needs? Could kelp give us all the seafood and wheat and rice and lamb and chicken and beef and turkey that the world could ever want, while also returning all the grazing land back to nature? (Which is a third of the non-ice surface of the earth back!) Could kelp be the silver bullet to feed the world exactly what we're enjoying now, only scaled up to 10 or 12 or 20 billion?


Edited by Eclipse, 18 March 2017 - 11:57 PM.

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#29 Moontanman

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 01:38 AM

Great point! If it's more energy efficient to just pump the nutrients up from the ocean floor, maybe giant solar or nuclear powered oil platforms could do this out in the deep and get the world's CO2 down that way! But which would be more economical: the traditional iron-ore fertilisation, or the deep pump?


I think we're on the same page then. I love all tree farms, especially the longer term vision required for hardwood tree farms. Some of the before and after photos are truly inspiring.


The potential of more traditional kelp farming from the nutrient rich areas of the ocean is amazing.

 

The world’s oceans are 361.9 million km2.
2% of them are nutrient rich enough to grow kelp in.
 
That’s 7.2 million km2 of potential kelp farms.
 
But the area to feed the world only requires 180,000 km2.
 
So we have about 40 times the nutrient rich area to farm kelp than we need to feed the world. 
 
Not only that, I'm currently investigating whether kelp farming could also act as a biomass feedstock for the vat-grown meats that are starting to come down in price and will soon be competitive with normal meat from animals.http://www.nextbigfu...ve-dropped.html

Kelp could also be biocharred to help improve soil quality, which would reduce the water and nutrients required to grow our crops.

The bottom line? Could kelp be the silver bullet that will fertilise all our cereal crop agricultural needs and replace all our grazing needs? Could kelp give us all the seafood and wheat and rice and lamb and chicken and beef and turkey that the world could ever want, while also returning all the grazing land back to nature? (Which is a third of the non-ice surface of the earth back!) Could kelp be the silver bullet to feed the world exactly what we're enjoying now, only scaled up to 10 or 12 or 20 billion?

 

 

If artificial upwellings could be made in ocean areas that are other wise nutrient poor would this cause algae blooms to absorb more CO2? Could air pumped to the ocean bottom be used to create these upwellings much like air is used to circulate water in aquariums and even in lakes but on a much larger scale? 


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"In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty; he is always in allegiance to the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own." ~ thomas jefferson

 

Religion evaporates in the light of critical inquiry much like the morning dew in the light of the rising sun... 

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#30 mistermack

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 10:00 AM

Great point! If it's more energy efficient to just pump the nutrients up from the ocean floor, maybe giant solar or nuclear powered oil platforms could do this out in the deep and get the world's CO2 down that way! But which would be more economical: the traditional iron-ore fertilisation, or the deep pump?

Probably the pump. You have to extract the iron ore from the Earth, crush it, and transport it to ships, and then sail it to the target.

And Iron ore has a market price which you are losing out on.

With a pump, you only need to overcome the friction in the pipe. A tiny amount of energy. And you could use wave motion to power the pump.


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#31 mistermack

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Posted Today, 11:42 AM

I just watched a repeat of "Wild China" on the BBC.

It was the episode about the coast, and I'd forgotten that it contained an item about a gigantic kelp farm. There were floating supports as far as the eye can see, dangling ropes with kelp growing off them.

 

It's a traditional industry that's been going on for a long time.

Saccharina cultivation in China

Saccharina japonica (formerly Laminaria japonica) is the most important economic seaweed in China. Mariculture on artificial floating rafts started in 1952, apparently using plants from populations introduced accidentally from Japan), and production increased steadily until 1980 when the production of 200,000 dry tons (about 1,500,000 wet tons) were achieved. In the late 1980s, the cultivation area and total yield declined due to the development of shellfish culture as farmers preferred cultivating shellfish to kelp. Currently, the yield of kelp from about 200,000 acres of farms is about 250,000 dry tons from about 2,000,000 wet tons, worth about 2 billion Yuan (Dr Zi-Min Hu, pers. comm.).

Sac_japonica_bay_small.jpg

 

So it's not such a new idea. It's been going on all of my life. The economics are obviously not overwhelmingly good, or it would be taken up on a bigger scale around the world.

 

http://www.seaweed.i.../kelp_china.php

 

In the same episode of "Wild China" they showed the Chinese fishing for jellyfish. They are catching them in large numbers, and are eaten as a common food all over China. With the increase in plankton due to pollution and over-fishing of predators, jellyfish are booming in numbers and they are catching increasing numbers.

Another possible industry based on plankton blooms.


Edited by mistermack, Today, 11:51 AM.

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