The University of Toronto will oversee a small team conducting research focused on design, and analysis of the new aquaculture aeration technology. The University of Toronto has partnered with Curiositate to provide industry feedback and consultation throughout the development of the technology. A partnership has also been formed with BRAC for field trials and planning for technology scale-up.
Aquaculture is a large industry in many low income countries (LICs); fish farms account for about 5 percent of the GDP of Bangladesh. Improving the quality of aquaculture pond water has the potential to increase fish yields, raise incomes, and improve food security. In large aquaculture facilities, aeration has been shown to improve water quality and increase yields. However, aeration equipment is costly and requires electrical power inputs which can limit its use in LICs. Dissolved oxygen (DO) that is used by the fish is provided by photosynthesis, which is related to sunlight and takes place during daylight hours. The oxygen is produced at the pond surface and much oxygen is lost to the atmosphere. By circulating the water, more oxygen can be introduced.
In many low-income countries aquaculture is a large industry. Improving the quality of aquaculture pond water has the potential to increase fish yields, raise incomes, and improve food security. The University of Toronto’s proposed approach is a new aeration method that does not require electricity, has no moving parts, has low maintenance requirements, and is inexpensive to fabricate and deploy in low income countries. The system uses heat that is captured through a solar thermal absorber and transferred to the bottom of the pond to heat the water. The heated water will rise and mix the pond, spreading oxygen-rich water from the top through the entire depth of the pond. The passive aeration system will increase pond dissolved oxygen levels to improve water quality, allow for increased density of fish stock, higher fish yields, as well as larger fish that have a higher market value and demand. At higher levels of dissolved oxygen, fish feed is also used more efficiently, which reduces operating costs.
The passive aeration system will increase pond dissolved oxygen levels to improve water quality, allow for increased density of fish stock, higher fish yields, as well as larger fish that have a higher market value and demand. At higher levels of dissolved oxygen, fish feed is also used more efficiently, which reduces operation costs. The solution is an alternative to power-hungry aeration systems that consume significant amounts of energy and capital. For farmers not using aeration, the technology will provide all of the benefits described above. For farmers using aeration, replacing or supplementing existing devices can greatly decrease energy consumption for aquaculture.
Using the Powering Agriculture funding, the University of Toronto (UoT) developed 4 variants of its solar uplift aeration (SUpA) and spun off a start-up company to continue its commercialization. Over the past year, UoT ended its partnership with Brac Fisheries and started a new partnership with WorldFish. WorldFish has been responsible with continuing UoT’s randomized control trials and developed a new field study that will give UoT more control over fish stocking levels and harvesting times. As part of its randomized control trials, UoT deployed a total of 51 devices. During FY19, UoT received recognition (and monetary awards) from two conferences for its project: the ASME iShow and the Aquaculture Innovation Challenge. The latter provided UoT with numerous global aquaculture industry contacts that can provide opportunities to commercialize SUpA technology, and it entitles WeTech, UoT’s commercial spin-off, to participate in an aquaculture-focused business accelerator. The University of Toronto’s award ended in November 2019.