June 16, 2024

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

A new research study by Tel Aviv University and University of California, Berkeley proposes a design according to which the facility of seaweed farms in river estuaries significantly reduces nitrogen concentrations in the estuary and avoids contamination in estuarine and marine environments. As an outcome, the state and local authorities spend a fantastic deal of money on lowering nitrogen concentrations in water, following national and worldwide conventions that limit nitrogen loading in the oceans, consisting of in the Mediterranean Sea.

The cultivation reactor that was utilized as the base of the model. Credit: Meiron Zollmann
A new research study by Tel Aviv University and University of California, Berkeley proposes a model according to which the facility of seaweed farms in river estuaries considerably decreases nitrogen concentrations in the estuary and avoids pollution in estuarine and marine environments. The research study was headed by doctoral trainee Meiron Zollmann, under the joint supervision of Prof. Alexander Golberg of the Porter School of Environmental and Earth Sciences and Prof. Alexander Liberzon of the School of Mechanical Engineering at the Iby and Aladar Fleischman Faculty of Engineering, Tel Aviv University.
As part of the research study, the scientists built a large seaweed farm model for growing the ulva sp. The Alexander River was selected due to the fact that the river discharges contaminating nitrogen from nearby upstream fields and towns into the Mediterranean Sea.
Researchers discuss that nitrogen is an essential fertilizer for farming, however it comes with an ecological cost tag. When nitrogen reaches the ocean, it distributes randomly, destructive different environments. As an outcome, the state and regional authorities spend a lot of money on lowering nitrogen concentrations in water, following nationwide and worldwide conventions that restrict nitrogen loading in the oceans, including in the Mediterranean Sea.

In this research study, we showed that if seaweed is grown according to the model we established, in rivers estuaries, they can soak up the nitrogen to adhere to environmental standards and avoid its dispersal in water and therefore neutralize environmental pollution.” The fascinating connection we use here is growing seaweed at the expense of nitrogen treatment,” concludes Prof. Golberg. We offer the design of seaweed farms in river estuaries including large amounts of agriculturally associated nitrogen residues to rehabilitate the estuary and prevent nitrogen from reaching the ocean while growing the seaweed itself for food.

“We are establishing technologies for growing seaweed in the ocean in order to balance out carbon and extract different compounds, such as starches and proteins, to use a marine option to terrestrial farming production. In this study, we revealed that if seaweed is grown according to the model we developed, in rivers estuaries, they can soak up the nitrogen to adhere to environmental standards and avoid its dispersal in water and hence reduce the effects of environmental pollution.
The researchers add that the mathematical model anticipates farm yields and links seaweed yield and chemical structure to nitrogen concentration in the estuary. “Our design permits marine farmers, as well as federal government and environmental bodies, to know, in advance, what the impact will be and what the items of a large seaweed farm will be– before establishing the actual farm,” includes Meiron Zollman. “Thanks to mathematics, we understand how to make the adjustments also concerning big agricultural farms and make the most of environmental advantages, including producing the agriculturally desired protein amounts.”
” It is crucial to understand that the entire world is moving towards green energy, and seaweed can be a considerable source,” adds Prof. Liberzon, “and yet today, there is no single farm with the proven technological and scientific capability. Our model provides some of the answers, hoping to persuade decision-makers that such farms will be profitable and environmentally friendly. Green energy: “If we knew how to utilize the development rates for energy in better percentages, it would be possible to embark on an one-year cruise with a kilogram of seaweed, with no additional fuel beyond the production of biomass in a marine environment.”
” The intriguing connection we offer here is growing seaweed at the expense of nitrogen treatment,” concludes Prof. Golberg. We use the design of seaweed farms in river estuaries including big amounts of agriculturally related nitrogen residues to fix up the estuary and avoid nitrogen from reaching the ocean while growing the seaweed itself for food.
Reference: “Multi-scale modeling of extensive macroalgae growing 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.