Next Generation Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) Technology
Neder Snir |
Chief Technology Officer
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The increasing number of aquaculture facilities based on RAS, or Recirculating Aquaculture System technology, is testament to the fact that this technology is proving highly advantageous. AquaMaof, a leader in recirculating aquaculture systems, brings a unique, multidisciplinary approach to indoor fish production, and is leading the way in developing innovative recirculating aquaculture system technologies for next-generation land-based aquaculture.
Onshore Aquaculture Systems
Much has been written about the rapid increase in the number of onshore aquaculture facilities.
This is due to several factors, among them increased demand for seafood due to population growth and a greater understanding of the nutritional benefits of eating fish; increased pollution of seas and oceans and over-fishing, resulting in a decline in fish populations around the globe; and a growing awareness of the significant environmental advantages of closed-containment, recirculating aquaculture system-based technology.
It is this last element that is the key to securing a sustainable future for aquaculture.
Advantages of Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) Technology
Recirculating aquaculture systems technology offers several significant advantages over other existing aquaculture methods.
Growing fish in a land-based, closed, and controlled environment reduces the risk of disease contamination.
No antibiotics or disease treatments are involved in a normal production process, so the fish produced are healthier.
Water motion in the rearing tanks allows the growers to exercise the fish, which in some fish species results in a more natural fat and tissue composition.
Since RAS technology is not entirely dependent on proximity to a specific water source, the facility can be built close to market, resulting in a shorter time from water to plate, and reduced transportation costs. Another advantage of recirculating aquaculture systems is that its advanced filtering capabilities significantly reduce water pollution from feed, feces, and chemical waste, making it a much more sustainable alternative to other aquaculture methods.
In terms of efficiency and productivity, RAS enable continuous harvest year-round, and fish grow to commercial size faster when compared with other aquaculture methods.
Faster growth usually means better conversion of feed to fish mass, and overall lower impact on the entire production chain and production costs, thanks to complete control of water temperature and the ability of recirculating aquaculture systems to maintain optimum oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.
Leading the Way: Advanced RAS-Based Installations
Dozens of recirculating aquaculture system-based installations are successfully operating around the world, and as seafood industry stakeholders and financial investors increasingly recognize the many significant advantages of recirculating aquaculture systems technology, we are seeing greater demand for these facilities.
AquaMaof is a unique coming-together of aquaculture system veterans and professionals, each competent in a broad array of subdisciplines of aquaculture.
Gary Myers, for example, is an aquaculture veteran with 40 years’ experience, multiple patents issued, and a pioneer of new-age aquaculture systems.
AquaMaof professionals have been developing tailored recirculating aquaculture system-based projects worldwide for well over a decade, using experience and knowledge gained in ichthyology, biosecurity, physics, chemistry, biology, process engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, health safety and environmental engineering, civil engineering, and more.
Advantages of AquaMaof’s RAS-Based Aquaculture Solutions
AquaMaof recirculating aquaculture systems offer many leading-edge advantages, including:
- 100 Percent Recirculated Water — 100 percent of the recirculating water from the fish tanks is processed through the main filtering system complex.
- Proprietary technology and Oxygen-Dissolving System — Delivering more oxygen for less energy, with oxygen generated on site; recovering waste heat; and regulating the oxygen level in each tank. Capable of delivering large quantities of dissolved oxygen during peak demand.
- Low Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) — Achieved through optimized feeding modes, an advanced feed management system, and optimal recirculating water conditions.
- Fish channel for fish transfer through water — An economical, simple, and safe way to move large numbers of fish through the recirculating aquaculture system production chain, from stocking to grading to market.
- Minimal maintenance — Smart selection and allocation of system components result in a robust recirculating aquaculture system facility.
- Minimal Liquid Discharge (MLD) — Achieved through the implementation of proprietary water-reuse technologies.
AquaMaof: Leading a Technological Revolution
So, what will the next generation of recirculating aquaculture system facilities look like? As in almost any other industrial field, next-generation recirculating aquaculture systems will harness existing advanced technologies, while refining techniques to further streamline operations and improve facility performance.
Here are some examples of how this will be achieved:
The next generation of land-based recirculating aquaculture system installations will make much more extensive use of automation, in two main areas:
Computerization systems, used for information gathering, analysis, troubleshooting, raising alerts, and inventory management – these will automatically provide crucial, real-time data for operators and management.
Technical activities, such as scheduled maintenance, harvesting, grading and counting, dissolved-gas control, temperature control, and more, which in the next-generation facilities will not involve human handling, enhancing bio-security and reducing human error.
Automation and data insight will result in key advantages: increased quality assurance; successful operation of much larger installations; and better utilization of environmental conditions and enhanced understanding of the intricate dynamics between fish performance and recirculating aquaculture system components.
By carrying out a process of site-specific optimization, we aim to tailor each fish-farm recirculating aquaculture system facility to the specific site, resulting in a reduction in the space required and the streamlining of all stages of the work process.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)
AI technologies will be used in recirculating aquaculture systems in the very near future. AquaMaof has already begun to develop AI, using data mining and analytics, in three stages:
Stage 1 – The recirculating aquaculture system facility’s main data processor collects vast amounts of information that will be fed into a centralized AI system for analysis, to produce indicators on which future decisions can be based.
Stage 2 – Recirculating aquaculture systems will be ‘taught’ to recognize and predict patterns, using machine learning techniques to identify problematic processes. This knowledge will allow the recirculating aquaculture system to generate predictions and early warnings of imminent malfunction.
Stage 3 – The recirculating aquaculture system will become ‘independent’, with a certain degree of control that will enable it to deal independently or request permission to deal with problems that are detected, and prevent problems before malfunctions occur.
Advanced technologies will be employed to monitor criteria such as water and environmental conditions, enabling more accurate control of all relevant parameters for the recirculating aquaculture system and for the fish themselves, resulting in lower production costs and improved quality of the final product.
PROCESS IMPROVEMENTS AND ENHANCEMENTS
Almost every stage of the recirculating aquaculture system process will be updated and improved, including feeding, lighting, and color, microbiological biome control, tank-flow dynamics, and interaction of biological and chemical processes in the water. This will enhance overall recirculating aquaculture production efficiency and allow upscaling of recirculating aquaculture system facilities, resulting in reduced production costs.
In-House R&D, Dedicated Training for the Future
Since 2016, AquaMaof has owned a recirculating aquaculture system-based facility designed and built by the company in Poland, of which private equity fund 8F has recently become joint-owner. This facility serves as our R&D and training center, giving us the unique capability of rapidly developing our land-based indoor aquaculture solutions.
We are currently conducting trials with a whole range of advanced technologies, aiming to create a complete ecosystem that incorporates a variety of different technologies into recirculating aquaculture system technology to further streamline the process, reduce operating costs, and reduce the carbon footprint of each future installation. We are already growing Atlantic salmon to market size (5-6kg) at this facility.
These are exciting times in the field of aquaculture, especially advanced recirculating aquaculture systems, with new technologies increasingly being deployed to enhance the entire process. Leveraging cutting-edge technologies and tailoring them to the needs of the industry ensures that recirculating aquaculture system installations of the future will be more sustainable, deliver improved efficiency and productivity, and reduce costs while enhancing fish quality.
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