Project Innovation + Advantages:
Umaro Foods (formerly Trophic), together with Otherlab and the University of New Hampshire, will lead a MARINER Category 1 project to design and develop a rugged and resilient offshore seafarm with high yield and low capital cost. The advanced design includes a passive, wave-driven upwelling system that brings nutrient rich seawater to the surface of the ocean, dramatically increasing yields (higher concentrations of nutrients exist in deeper ocean water). A robotic anchoring system will quickly and efficiently deploy environmentally friendly helical anchors into the seafloor with minimal disturbance to the seabed, allowing for high load anchoring capacity with low installation cost. To test a new marine mammal safety feature, the farm will be constructed of stiff composite fiberglass material instead of rope. The team will deploy an individual full-scale unit of the larger multi-module system in Saco Bay, Maine, in fully exposed ocean conditions. If successful, the system will produce high yields at a cost of less than $80 per dry metric ton.
If successful, MARINER projects strive to develop the tools needed to allow the United States to become a world leader in marine biomass production for multiple important applications, including the production of biofuels.
Growing large amounts of macroalgae would not compete with land-based food crops, requires no fresh water and can be grown without the addition of energy-intensive, synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. Large-scale macroalgae cultivation may help reduce the negative effects of nutrient overload and ocean acidification in many coastal ocean regions.
A domestic macroalgae industry would not only create a valuable new source of domestic energy, but also create significant new economic and employment opportunities in many waterfront communities along the U.S. coasts from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and the Pacific Islands.