French launch prototype algae collection vessel
The Alu Marine Shipyard in France launched a prototype algae collection vessel last year.
The project, begun at the initiative of the regional Neopolia Marine cluster, grew to encompass four partners with complementary skills. These include Alu Marine itself, developer and owner Thomsea, naval architecture and engineering by Arco Marine, and Olmix, which focuses on the transformation of algae and its development for industrial uses.
The first trials were run at the town of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, which is to date the first municipality to benefit from algae collection. The test phase was to validate the economic model of the project, including quality testing of algae collected in order to verify their potential for future development in the areas of health, food additives and nutrition, animal and aquaculture nutrition, and cosmetics.
The goal is to eventually develop, build and operate a range of collection vessels to develop and improve the uses of marine algae.
The prototype vessel features aluminium construction and measures 11.95m LOA with a beam of 4.45m. The 10 tonne vessel can attain a maximum speed of 10km/hr.
Developed as an amphibious vehicle for beach harvesting, the vessel is also equipped with a hydraulic propulsion unit.
The harvesting operates with the algae collected in a net similar to a trawl net, and compressed as they approach the vacuum pipe. They are then vacuumed to a ‘bubbler’ tank which is essential for cleaning the algae. Once separated from the sand, algae are stored in crates and transported to the plant for transformation.
The Algapolia project is one of many innovative projects supported by Neopolia and is an example of a concentration of expertise for developing marine sectors such as aquaculture.
Chinese officials have already visited to observe the project, as algae now covers the harbour where Olympic sailing events were staged.
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