TendOcean Ecosystem Services: Seaweed Cultivation
Seaweed farming is not only profitable, but it also absorbs CO2 and reduces ocean acidity.
We are committed to solving the problem of underproductive oceans. Not long ago the idea of humans being able to impact something as vast as the ocean was quite ridiculous. The problem is that the oceans mix on geological time scales, so the pollution and chemical changes we introduce affect the part of the ocean we are in contact with rather quickly. One might think that because the ocean is so vast, it has such a huge landscape for productivity, but this is also not true. Much of the ocean is a desert, and life competes in the very spaces we impact. But we can intervene. Seaweeds form the base of coastal marine ecosystems, often limited by available substrates to grow on. They are limited to a thin band of the coastline, at just the right depth, where they grow rapidly. We are proposing to create artificial substrates to make that band wider.
Our solution is a system for increasing the density and modularity of seaweed cultivation. We increase density by achieving closer line spacing through careful control of the system geometry and precise component lengths, providing uniform tension among the neighboring lines. With this technology, we then intend to introduce mechanization of planting and harvesting. These improvements will reduce costs significantly, and make it easier to permit and deploy cultivations at scale and in a variety of locations.
But why does this change the world? Can you do anything with all that seaweed? Yes, seaweed is incredible. In addition to improving the ecosystem and growing faster than just about anything else, the cultivation can be harvested, and used for everything from animal feeds, to fertilizers, bioplastics, and non-food-crop biofuels. You could also eat the seaweed, which is a rapidly growing niche market in the US, but significant in other parts of the world. Cultivating seaweeds is complementary to many commercial fishery seasons, would benefit recreational/tourist fishermen, and doesn’t impact “view sheds” by staying relatively out of sight since it is largely underwater. Cultivating seaweed can reverse the impacts of modern industrial society on aquatic ecosystems, and develop a sustainable industry for coastal communities around the world.
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Newburyport, MA, USA
What makes our solution innovative:
Right now all seaweed farming in the US is artisanal with little chance of reaching the scale needed to become a significant producer of food, chemicals, or energy. As far as we know, ours is the only engineered system that is available.
Our systems represent a leap forward in terms of technology for the cultivation of seaweed at scale. Similar to going from hand tools to combine harvesters on land, our technology increases the density and modularity of a farm and introduces labor-saving mechanization.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Our innovative macroalgae farm systems will allow expansion and more profitable operations.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
Seeing our technology adopted off the coast of New England to farm kelp.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
We see our system applicable globally providing jobs, supporting coastal communities, enhancing ocean ecosystems, and counteracting ocean acidification.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:2
How many years we have been working on our solution:1-2 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Insight on the needs of the sector.
Our revenue model:
Providing equipment to ocean farmers. Think of what International Harvester has done.
Why we are applying to Solve:
We are applying to Solve because we believe that seaweed cultivation can have a significant impact for communities around the world. We hope that joining Solve's global network would help us find the best ways to reach out and deliver these technologies. We intend to build a sustainable business that shares in the mission of global challenges.
The key barriers for our solution:
Matching production output with market demand may result in a positive but relatively linear development of this technology, but what ways are there to capture the value of the system that are beyond the value of the harvested seaweed itself?