Production System Overview:
We have received over 1.5 million dollars for the design, economic feasibility, engineering, permitting, construction and installation of a 9,000 ft2 building to contain an integrated fish, plant and algal production system. Approximately 3,000 ft2 will contain a well-insulted building on a concrete slab to house the fish tanks and filtration equipment along with a lab, bathroom and processing area. The other 6,000 ft2 will be devoted to a greenhouse also on a cement slab. The fish (13,000 lbs annual harvest) will be grown in 2,000 gallon tanks at high density (.5 lbs/gallon). At this density the fish tank water requires constant treatment (tank residence times just under 60 minutes) to prevent O2 depletion, and the build up of nitrates, ammonia and other nutrients or potentially toxic conditions. The high nutrient, low oxygen waste-water from the fish is pumped through three (16 ft x 40ft x 16” deep) troughs to support the hydroponic growth of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In addition, this water will flow through a single (16 ft x 40ft x 16” deep) algal trough to support the growth of oil rich algae. Together, the plants and algae will remove nutrients and add oxygen before it is returned to the fish to complete the cycle. The algae can be harvested for both oil production and valuable organic fish feed. Finally, sediments (both solid and dissolved) resulting from undigested food and fish feces will be removed and composted. The integrated production system will contain approximately 50,000 gallons of water, and produce over $120,000 in annual fish, produce, algal (oil and fish feed) and compost revenues.
Required system inputs and outputs are minimal and completely sustainable. The building will be heated using a biomass boiler to heat the water to the 75-80 degrees F desired by Tilapia. These 50,000 gallons of heated water will then heat the building. Organic fish feed will be used to subsidize the algal feed. The facility is expected to lose approximately 2% (1,000 gallons) of its water per day to evaporation and harvest. This water will be replaced by rainwater collected from the rooftops and stored in large tanks (20,000 gallons total) located in the greenhouse under the plant and algal troughs. Electricity use will be offset by a 20 kw wind turbines scheduled for a Fall of 2012 installation. Outputs will consist of whole fish, herbs, fruits, vegetables, algal oil, biodiesel, algal feed and compost. In the end, we hope to demonstrate that communities can create jobs producing their own sustainable food and biofuel in this manner.