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Unit 1, 13 Old Dairy Close, Moss Vale NSW 2577

The University of Waikato – Macroalgae Research Facility

CLIENT: The University of Waikato

LOCATION: Tauranga, New Zealand

YEAR: 2020

Fresh By Design is proud to announce the completion and official opening of The University of Waikato Macroalgae Research Facility in Tauranga, New Zealand

FBD was contracted by the University of Waikato to supply and construct a state-of-the-art Recirculation Aquaculture System (RAS) for the Facility of Aquaculture Research of Macroalgae, in Tauranga, New Zealand. This was comprised of two identical, bespoke algae research systems for both fresh or saltwater use. These were all housed in locally sourced greenhouses using reverse cycle heat pumps for temperature control.

The cultivation research is focused on the development of sustainable technologies to enable the production of marine and freshwater macroalgae for biomass applications. This will ultimately deliver on NZ national targets to diversify the local aquaculture industry. The primary species to be grown in the RAS, and that can be see in the photos, are the freshwater alga Oedogonium and the seaweed Ulva (sea lettuce). Research around uses of the produced biomass focus on the incorporation of algal bioproducts for human and animal health and nutrition, plant health and biostimulants, and materials.

The facility included 2 x RAS systems each with:

  • 6 x 7000l High-rate algal pond (HRAP) tanks from Ajay Fibreglass
  • 6 x 1000l Duraplas tanks each

These systems include:

  • Direct CO2 control via FBD injection systems with PID control
  • RK2 Foam Fractionators
  • Ultra Aqua UV systems
  • Waterco Aquabiome filters, Media filters with AFM media.
  • Waterco pumps including inbuilt and stand-alone Vacon VFD control for the main system pumps.
  • FSI Bag Filters
  • Oasis Heat Pumps
  • FBD Oxygen Cones

The system also required dual intake water treatment system for saltwater and freshwater – also allowing for input of various sources of wastewater to trial treatment and remediation options. These intake systems included Devan storage tanks, Dechlorination systems, Ultra Aqua UV units and Waterco media filters and pumps, along with bypass options.

The system was monitored and controlled via dual OxyGuard Pacific units (supplied by Technolab) measuring a number of sensors including pressure, flow meters, pH, salinity, temperature along with ultrasonic measurement of levels in sumps and storage tanks.

With the project due to start just as international flights were cancelled and countries started to lock down, it was an amazing effort by the University and all other teams involved to keep the project moving and ensure it was completed once New Zealand came out of lockdown.

Other key project partners included Aotea Electrical, Hawkins, Greenstone Group, Water Solutions and Technolab.

A high level of locally source NZ products were used – chillers, pumps, filters, storage tanks and sumps, along with additional local installation expertise.

“Fresh by Design were engaged at the vision conception stage to provide preliminary guidance which progressed to high level design, engineering and construction for all the RAS and greenhouses. Their expertise was critical when working with all other contractors to make effective decisions on the wider building, plumbing and electrical requirements to support the RAS systems. FBD remained proactive and solutions orientated throughout the process, which included a partial redesign building method late in the project whilst also navigating Covid-19 restrictions to get the RAS systems built and operating between May and July 2020, even though key FBD staff could not be onsite, instead utilising remote project management. We appreciate their ongoing support with the project and would be happy to work with them again”. – Chris Blake, Entrepreneurial Universities Macroalgal Biotechnology Enterprises Programme, University of Waikato.

If you’d like to discuss our aquaculture consultancy services, please get in touch.