THE BEACON - Gander, NL
Researchers hoping to deploy wave-powered pump at Lord’s Cove site this spring
Published on February 10, 2015
A wave-powered pump that researchers hope will transform aquaculture will soon be positioned in the surging seas off Lord’s Cove.
For Dr. Michael Graham, project administrator with College of the North Atlantic’s Wave Energy Research Centre (WERC), and co-researcher Leon Fiander, a biology instructor at the school, it will mark a milestone they’ve been working towards for some time.
The five-year project aims to develop the methods and technology necessary to deliver sea water to an on-shore aquaculture farm in a manner that is economically viable as a business.
Graham said the design of the test farm is being tweaked and they hope to deploy the pump this spring.
“The farm is operating now off of electrically pumped water. The pump itself, we’ve finished all the design engineering, we’ve done the tank testing and we’re currently building it out in the shop,” he told the Southern Gazette Thursday, referring to the metal fabrication facility at the college’s Burin campus.
“We are currently growing salmon, conners, sea urchins, scallops, sea cucumber and seaweed. We have plans to add mussels and perhaps sandworms,” he said.
Waste from the farmed fish, Graham explained, is consumed by the other organisms, which would help keep production costs down.
Meanwhile, Graham and Fiander had a unique opportunity last week.
WERC was one of six research projects from across the country showcased during an event hosted by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Sen. Kelvin Ogilvie, chair of the social affairs, science and technology Senate committee, on Parliament Hill Tuesday. NSERC is a major funder of all six projects.
“It’s really hard to keep count but I’d say we talked to about 30 or so MPs and probably another 20 or so assistants,” Graham said. “We weren’t really there, I guess, to advertise our particular project but to sell the whole idea of funding science in the first place.”
It was a good opportunity to network, however, Graham said, pointing out there were several offers to put him and Fiander in touch with people who would be interested in their efforts.
Improvements at the Lord’s Cove site since the project started have also opened up the possibility of other businesses and organizations using the facility’s infrastructure and testing sea-based technologies, Graham suggested.
There hasn’t been a lot of work done to promote the site yet, he said, but ideas are in the works for a marketing plan in the next year or so.
“The conditions down there are going to test (the technologies) in the extreme,” Graham said. “If it can survive there, it’ll survive anywhere.”