Researchers at the University of South Australia Design provided of one A vertical sea farm will float in the ocean and produce fresh water for drinking and agriculture.
This self-sufficient solar power system is considered to be the first in the world Evaporates seawater and recycles it into fresh water to grow crops without human intervention.
Once operational, this environment is expected to be innovative Help tackle global fresh water and food shortages In the coming decades, the world population in particular is expected to reach a staggering figure 10 billion people by 2050.
An innovative vertical marine farm
The researchers responsible for the development of the vertical floating marine farm are Professor Hallen Xu and Dr Gary Owens from Unisa’s Future Industries Institute. It consists of two chambers: an upper layer similar to a greenhouse and a lower water collection chamber.
“The system works much like the absorbent bed that home gardeners are familiar with,” explained Dr. Owen.
“However, in this case, clean water is provided by a set of solar evaporators that absorb seawater, Evaporate and trap salts in the body And, under the rays of the sun, They release pure steam into the air, which is then condensed In ribbons of water and over plants transferred to the growth chamber.”
In a field trial, researchers developed Three common vegetable crops (Broccoli, spinach and bok choy) without maintenance or supplemental irrigation with fresh water in sea water areas.
According to Professor Xu, A system that only works with sunlightIt has several advantages over other solar ocean farm designs currently being tested:
“Other designs have vaporizers installed inside the growth chamber Takes up valuable space that could be used for plant growth. Additionally, these systems are prone to overheating and crop mortality.
Floating farms have been proposed, in which traditional photovoltaic panels collect electricity for conventional desalination units, but They use a lot of energy and are expensive to maintain..
“In our design, the vertical layout of the vaporizer and growth chambers Reduces overall device footprintIncreasing the area for food production. Because it is fully automatic, low cost and very easy to handle It uses only solar energy and seawater to produce clean water and grow crops.”
Expand to increase plant productivity
Dr. Owens explained that the design concept is only in the proof of concept phase The next step is to expand itUsing a small set of personal devices To increase plant production. Therefore, to meet the increased food supply requirements, researchers They need to increase both in size and number of devices.
“It’s not inconceivable that we might see it at some point in the future Large agricultural organisms Floating in the ocean“Or many smaller devices are used in a large ocean area,” he said, adding that their current prototype could be modified to produce more biomass. This would include the use of low-cost substrate materials such as rice waste fiber. Straw, for Make device operation more affordable.
Researchers have proven that The recycled water thus produced is pure enough for drinking and less salinity than the global health guidelines for drinking water.
“Fresh water accounts for only 2.5% of the world’s water, and much of it is inaccessible “Because it’s trapped in glaciers, polar caps or subsoil,” Owens explains.
“It’s not that fresh water is diminishing, what little there is is diminishing Increasing demand Due to population growth and climate change.
“97.5% of the world’s water is in our oceans – and freely available – A clear solution is to use the ocean and the sun to address the global shortage of water, food and agricultural land. Adoption of this technology will improve the health and well-being of billions of people around the world.”