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MAROFF-2-Maritim virksomhet og offsh-2

Development of concept vessel with deck equipment and quality preserving technology for industrial seaweed cultivation

Alternative title: Utvikling av konseptfartøy med dekksutrustning og kvalitetsbevarende teknologi for industriell taredyrking

Awarded: NOK 8.7 mill.

Project Manager:

Project Number:

269104

Project Period:

2017 - 2020

The cultivation potential for seaweeds along the Norwegian coastline is good, cultivation protocols have been developed for several species and the number of seaweed cultivation companies in Norway is increasing every year. Cultivated seaweeds could potentially substitute land-based biomass in several areas and contribute to additional resources reserves, but a few bottlenecks remain before a seaweed industry could be realised in Norway. Existing seaweed farms and harvesting methods involves a lot of manual work, which is time consuming, physically demanding and may compromise personal safety. This leads to low profitability for Norwegian seaweed cultivators. Specialised cultivation vessels that could handle large volumes at low operating costs are assumed to play an important role in the development of a future seaweed industry in Norway. The project goal has been to develop the world's first specialised vessel concept for industrial seaweed cultivation. The vessel will serve all stages of seaweed cultivation, including i) installation of seaweed farms, ii) transport and deployment of seedlings, and iii) harvest and transport of fully-grown seaweeds. The project has been executed by a consortium consisting of Møre Maritime AS, Abyss Aqua AS, MacGregor Norway AS, Mustad Autoline AS, Orkel AS, Polyform AS, Stranda Prolog AS, NTNU and SINTEF Ocean AS. In the project's first year, 2017, a foundation was laid in the form of a requirement specification to provide basis for the concept development. In the second year of the project, 2018, work has been done on concepts to handle and store seaweed. In 2019 and 2020, vessel concepts have been concretized and further evaluated as a total concept. The total concept consists of three different vessel concepts with different harvest- and storage capacity for stepwise introduction into a growing seaweed industry. The vessel concepts are based on a combination of existing vessel types, such as service vessels for aquaculture industry (1) and seaweed harvesters (2), and a new vessel concept (3), which may also serve the aquaculture industry. For all vessel concepts, the harvesting-, handling-, storing and preservation equipment will be modular to allow for alternative use of the vessels in the off-season. Whereas concept 1) and 2) primarily will operate inshore, concept 3) is also designed to operate offshore, both because the growth conditions are more favourable, but also to reduce potential area conflicts in the coastal zone. Handling of seaweed is based on using rope as cultivation substrate, where the cultivation ropes are pulled in by the vessel and the seaweed is peeled off. Vessel 3) may also be equipped with a harvesting unit that could operate on submerged ropes, pumping the seaweed onboard the vessel. This could be favourable where partial harvesting is desired, allowing for harvesting the regrowth later in the season. Once harvested the seaweed degrades quite rapidly. This means that the seaweed must be harvested and transported effectively to onshore facilities for further processing, or it must be preserved onboard the vessel. Seaweed cultivation and harvesting will be a seasonal activity. Hence, methods for preserving the seaweed to allow for continuous utilisation of land-based processing equipment are essential. For short-time storage onboard the vessel, temporary storage in air is an alternative. Storage in seawater, onboard the vessel or in net pens in the sea, gives prolonged shelf life. For conservation onboard the vessel, ensiling is considered the most favourable method. Ensiling of seaweed could be used for a range of end products, will ensure necessary preservation of quality and the method is energy efficient. The level of processing and preservation onboard the vessels depend on the intended application areas. The vessel concepts may deliver fresh or preserved seaweed in large volumes for further processing to various end products. The vessel will ensure that the market is offered predictable product quality and will increase the profitability for the cultivators. A few key factors are considered essential for further development of a seaweed industry in Norway. An industrial upscaling will require larger seaweed farms, and it is likely that these farms will be placed in more weather exposed areas. This will give stricter requirements for the design of the seaweed farms, both with respect to robustness and operational performance. Development of end products that requires large volumes of seaweed is essential for increased vessel utilisation and will make it feasible to gradually introduce more dedicated cultivation vessels into the market. Methods for biorefining of seaweed, that could contribute to full utilisation of the raw material, will give increased profitability and sustainable utilisation of seaweed.

Fartøyskonseptene som er utviklet i prosjektet er basert på høy grad av mekanisering og automatisering, slik at tidkrevende manuelt arbeid kan utføres sikrere, mer effektivt og bidra til økt lønnsomhet for taredyrkerne. Prosjektresultatene vil kunne bidra til økt verdiskaping langs kysten innenfor dyrking, høsting og prosessering av kultivert tare, samt for utforming av nye produkter, teknologier og tjenester hos leverandørindustrien. Det er utformet konseptuelle tegninger, som sammen med kunnskapen som er ervervet i prosjektet, danner basis for at prosjekteier og -partnerne har mulighet til å posisjonere og profilere seg mot en gryende næring, og kan tilby produkter og løsninger når markedet er klart for det. Spesialiserte taredyrkingsfartøy, som kan håndtere store volum til lave driftskostnader, antas å være et viktig og utløsende steg i utviklingen av industriell taredyrking i Norge.

Prosjektet skal etablere verdens første, rendyrkede fartøykonsept for industriell taredyrking. Fartøyet skal tjene alle faser innen taredyrking: i) etablering og montering av taredyrkingsanlegg, ii) transport og utsett av kimplanter, og iii) høsting og transport av ferdigvokst tare. Prosjektet krever omfattende forskning for å muliggjøre teknologi- og produktutvikling for et fremtidsrettet fartøykonsept for taredyrking med tilhørende håndteringsløsninger, dekksutrustning og systemer for kvalitetssikring og prosessering av tare. Fartøyet skal sikre at markedet tilbys forutsigbar og unik produktkvalitet, samt lønnsomhet for dyrkerne. For å kunne oppnå en reell og stor industriell produksjon, som sikrer økonomisk lønnsomhet, vil det være avgjørende å ha løsninger som sikrer effektive operasjoner og produktkvalitetet, samtidig som god HMS ivaretas. Det kreves utvikling av nye, spesialiserte fartøy med høy grad av mekanisering og automatisering av prosessen for effektive operasjoner og håndtering av tare. Et spesialisert taredyrkingsfartøy vil ha stor betydning i internasjonale høykostland med høye personalkostnader, og vil være viktig for at taredyrking blir økonomisk lønnsomt, ved håndtering av store volum til lave driftskostnader. Tarenæringen står nå på terskelen til å måtte ta dette industrielle steget. Det største og overordnede verdiskapingspotensialet for prosjektet, er å bidra med grunnlag innen 2020, for å realisere en norsk, industriell næring innenfor taredyrking.

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MAROFF-2-Maritim virksomhet og offsh-2