13TSB_ACT: Lobster Grower - Develop the technology to fast track the aquaculture potential for the European Lobster

Lead Research Organisation: Falmouth University
Department Name: Sch of Architecture, Design & Interiors

Abstract

The project relates specifically to primary livestock production of a high value marine species and aims to put in place an essential base of both knowledge and aqua farming infrastructure to enable economical and low carbon 'green' European Lobster farming. This research and development project will develop initial design Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system solutions with the end aim to inform about production criteria of final prototypes that can be tested at an industry scale at a later stage.

Preliminary sea based lobster trials conducted by The Notional Lobster Hatchery (NLH) using containers designed for rearing oyster spat have already shown good short term survival and growth of lobsters in individual containers. Despite initial success, the preliminary trials have highlighted some deficiencies in container designs that have resulted in variation in growth and survival, as well as high number of man hours required to deploy, monitor, retrieve and maintain containers. The trial identified that the economical viability was limited and that the mean survival rate varied directly with flow. Animals in containers with the greatest exchange of seawater demonstrated survival rates of up to 90% compared with approximate 30% in containers allowing lower flow rates. A re-design of the system in term of shape, material, surface area of culture containers enabling necessary fluid flows and technical production processes, which will allow the economical farming of the European lobster.

This research and development project is designed to address the deficiencies identified in this preliminary study through a scientific assessment of specific designs. In order to inform about necessary growing and survival criteria that will allow the farming of the European Lobster the expertise from bioscience and fluid dynamic technologies will be combined. Whilst the biological context will provide growth and survival criteria, flow pattern for Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) systems that provide necessary growth and survival rates will be investigated experimentally through the deployment of a range of superstructures and individual cages design and produced using facilities and expertise within Falmouth University's Makernow digital production Lab. A special hydrodynamic test facility based at the University of Exeter' Cornwall Campus will be used to investigate if SBCC designs provide the necessary flow patterns. In order to measure and visualise the flow around and within SBCC superstructures and inner container designs non-intrusive or part-intrusive 2D or 3D point measurement of velocity and turbulence distribution in both free flows and internal flow techniques will be used, such as LDA-LDV and hot wire anemometry methods.

It is intended to test four superstructures, which will have different stiffness, access, shape and consequently flow characteristics. The inner containers will be tested individually to understand the change in flow as a consequence of i) different shape designs and ii) blockage criteria caused e.g. through marine growth. Four different inner container designs will be initially investigated and the most suitable design will be further investigated regarding the impact through blockage by blocking a quantified percentage of the hull. Finally the full CBSS system will be investigated as a combination of superstructure and inner containers. The outcomes will be assessed based on scientific findings and used to provide the necessary evidence to develop a final prototype that can be tested at sea trials at later stage.

Technical Summary

The project relates specifically to primary livestock production of a high value marine species and aims to put in place an essential base of both knowledge and aquaculture infrastructure to enable economical and low carbon 'green' farming of a novel aquaculture species, the European Lobster. This early stage project will develop initial design solutions for Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) systems, to inform about production criteria of final prototypes that can be tested at an industry scale at a later stage.
Preliminary sea based lobster trials conducted by The National Lobster Hatchery (NLH) using containers designed for rearing oyster spat have already shown good short term survival and growth of lobsters in individual containers. Despite initial success, the preliminary trials have highlighted some deficiencies in container designs that have resulted in high number of man hours required to deploy, monitor, retrieve and maintain containers. Trials have identified that the economic viability was limited and that the mean survival rate varied directly with flow. Animals in containers with the greatest exchange of seawater demonstrated survival rates of up to 90% compared with approximate 30% in containers allowing lower flow rates. A re-design of the system in terms of shape, material and surface area will take steps towards economical farming of the European lobster.
This early stage development project aims to address the deficiencies identified in preliminary studies through a scientific assessment of specific designs, combining bioscience and fluid dynamic technologies to inform necessary growth and survival criteria. Using expertise at Falmouth University's Makernow digital production Lab and University of Exeter' hydrodynamic test facility, SBCC designs will be tested. The outcomes will be assessed based on scientific findings and used to provide the necessary evidence to develop final prototypes that can be tested at sea trials at later stage.

Planned Impact

In the joint policy paper published on the 22nd of July 2013 by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, the
Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs and the Department for International Development, it is identified that agricultural science and technology is rapidly becoming one of the world's fastest growing and exciting markets. It is also stated that the UK's food export in 2012 was in the order of £18 billion and that the entire agri-food contributes £96 billion or 7% of gross value to the UK, with an employment value to agriculture and fishing being of the order of £3.8 million. In order for the UK to hold its position as a strong producer and supplier of agriculture products and services it is essential to pursue
the technology revolution within the sector, which has been described within the policy paper to be driven by global
changes such as i) a rising population, ii) a rapid development of emerging economies with western lifestyle aspirations and iii) a growing geopolitical instability around shortages of land, water and energy.

This project seeks to address primary livestock production and food security issues, taking steps towards introducing a
novel candidate species for aquaculture, the European lobster. It has the potential to generate a new UK-led industry sector that will help support the ever increasing protein demands brought about by rising global populations, whilst having a significant economical impact. The European lobster is a high value species that is not currently exploited in the aquaculture sector: fisheries are limited and therefore demand exceeds supply. In 2004 it was predicted that only 4.3% of the estimated demand for the European lobster was being met and the estimated market for the European lobster was around 70,000 ton per year. Supply is limited to approximately 3,000 ton per year. Thus there is a clear market opportunity for aquaculture to fill the demand supply deficit.

The proposed project aims to tacksocial challenges such as primary livestock production and food security, by
implementing the foundation required to make available a novel candidate aquaculture species, the European Lobster.
Currently technical and economical challenges prohibit the species from being farmed. Overcoming these challenges will enable the growth of a new agricultural sector within the UK, providing a valuable human protein source at minimal unit cost and creating wealth and jobs in vulnerable coastal communities.

A number of fundamental topics will be addressed during the project that will have an academic impact in the area of food security. The research outcomes will be knowledge transferable into the fluid dynamics, bioscience field and design are expected to be widely publicised. It is likely that this project could be a followed by an industry scale project, generating additional R&D projects in the future that Falmouth University may continue to play a part.

Publications

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Description In this research project Falmouth University was part of a wider consortium lead by 'The National Lobster Hatchery (NLH). The project's ultimate mission is to provide a valuable human protein source tackling the challenges of primary livestock production and food security, through creating a new aqua culture industry based on lobster 'farming'. This early stage development project was designed to address the deficiencies identified in preliminary studies through a scientific assessment of specific designs in controlled lab conditions. To this end a range of container designs have been co-designed, with input from all consortium members, physically prototyped by Falmouth University and a comprehensive set of flow tests undertaken by successfully by Exeter University. Through analysis of the results of these tests, and taking into account a range of other deployment and manufacturing criteria, a sea trail design prototype was co-designed (led by Falmouth) and a detailed design for injection moulded manufacture has been developed and tooling commissioned. 2250 container units (holding 45,000 lobsters) are due for deployment at sea in a second phase research project, for which funding has been successfully secured.

Falmouth's role in this project has therefore been one of providing design and manufacturing expertise that have facilitated the production of viable and appropriate prototypes for testing, both in lab conditions and in the more challenging 'real-world' trails.

Using rapid prototyping and other digital production technologies (cnc milling and laser cutting) as production tools to produce the prototypes for flow testing is a new and novel application for these technologies. Some new practical knowledge of appropriate materials and techniques has been gained. These can be seen to focus around issues of accuracy, affordances and tolerances of specific digital production technologies, and differing RP materials' responses to the testing conditions (e.g. prolonged immersion in flowing water).

Through Falmouth's more in-depth involvement in the second stage design process then was originally planned there has been some useful knowledge and experience gained by the research team in relation to how outcomes from scientific studies are integrated into a complex web of other (sometimes conflicting) design parameters when developing items for 'real-world' production processes and environments.

Aquaculture is not an area in which Falmouth University had any previous experience Therefore this interdisciplinary project has provided an introduction into new commercial and research networks, both regionally and nationally, and has laid the foundation for future collaborations and partnerships (see below for details).

The project as whole has increased Falmouth's experience in this field and existing CAD skills for the creation of injection moulding tooling have been honed and improved. This has been recognised through inclusion in a successful bid to undertake 'Lobster Grower 2', a follow on project that will involve Falmouth research staff in an increased design role as the Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) system moves towards a final design resolution and commercialisation.
Exploitation Route The use of rapid prototyping technologies (RP) to effectively produce prototypes for trails to test the impact of shape, mesh size and orientation on the internal flow rates of aquaculture containers has been successfully explored. This includes both overarching approaches and detailed information regarding materials and RP technologies required for successful testing.

At this stage the specific aquaculture container designs are commercially sensitive and protected by an IP application, so others beyond the project consortium cannot exploit the detailed design outcomes at this time.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Other

 
Description This collaborative research project is the first of a broader three-phase scheme that seeks to have significant economic (and so societal) impact through progressing the UK's aquaculture industry by enhancing the prospect for the culture of a species not currently exploited in the aquaculture industry (i.e. the European lobster). This 'Early Stage Award: Pre-industrial Research Feasibility Studies' was focused on developing prototype designs for lobster specific Sea Based Container Culture (SBCC) containers design prototype development and laboratory testing. The project also and the set in place of licencing and other agreements to allow for the future industrial scale testing of SBCC prototypes in phase two. This successfully funded second phase project Lobster Grower 2 launched in February 2016. Therefore the outcomes of this phase one project are focused on laying the foundations for a successful phase two rather than having significant impact in their own right. To conclude, the specific Falmouth activities in this phase one project did not have significant impact independently of the wider consortium activities, but they played a pivotal role in developing scaled prototypes for laboratory flow testing flow test prototypes and further iterating SBCC designs to make them fit for prototype manufacture. This work will find its impact through the second phase of the project, which aims to demonstrate, on a pilot scale, the technical, economic and environmental viability of farming the species. The third phase would plan to commercialise aquaculture of the species and encourage investment to set up full-scale farms.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Lobster Grower - Develop the technology to fast track the aquaculture potential for the European Lobster 
Organisation Centre For Environment, Fisheries And Aquaculture Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Falmouth University provided expertise and knowledge in the use of digital prototyping technologies to produce prototype Sea Based Container Culture systems (SBCC) for flow tests carried out by University of Exeter. In addition the Falmouth team provided advanced research and development and CAD design expertise that played a pivotal role in the development of a flexible SBBC design appropriate for mass production using industrial injection moulding processes.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery led the consortium in this jointly funded BBSRC and Innovate UK project. They therefore managed the project as a whole and provided the expertise related to Lobster breeding and life cycles, this included existing research associated with lobster farming and related aquaculture activities. Exeter University undertook and analysed the results of a comprehensive set of flow tank tests involving a number of SBBC prototype designs. The results of this work in understanding water flow and an exchange rates informed design decisions that led to the final prototype design that was taken forward to manufacture. Fusion Marine brought experience of working in the aquaculture sector and some design experience within this sector. They provided some initial design directions and ran an initial collaborative design brainstorming session. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. They also managed the tendering process which secured a manufacturer for the creation of the final injection moulded prototypes. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary project involving a range of academic disciplines and commercial partners, this includes: National Lobster Hatchery who bring specific expertise in Lobster growing and marine biology, and aquaculture more generally. University of Exeter who bring scientific knowledge in areas including ecological systems, experimental fluid dynamics, physical testing and marine engineering. Fusion Marine is one of the world's leading suppliers of fish farming equipment, they bring the design and engineering expertise that helped enable the development of a suitable design for containers. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Lobster Grower - Develop the technology to fast track the aquaculture potential for the European Lobster 
Organisation Fusion Marine
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Falmouth University provided expertise and knowledge in the use of digital prototyping technologies to produce prototype Sea Based Container Culture systems (SBCC) for flow tests carried out by University of Exeter. In addition the Falmouth team provided advanced research and development and CAD design expertise that played a pivotal role in the development of a flexible SBBC design appropriate for mass production using industrial injection moulding processes.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery led the consortium in this jointly funded BBSRC and Innovate UK project. They therefore managed the project as a whole and provided the expertise related to Lobster breeding and life cycles, this included existing research associated with lobster farming and related aquaculture activities. Exeter University undertook and analysed the results of a comprehensive set of flow tank tests involving a number of SBBC prototype designs. The results of this work in understanding water flow and an exchange rates informed design decisions that led to the final prototype design that was taken forward to manufacture. Fusion Marine brought experience of working in the aquaculture sector and some design experience within this sector. They provided some initial design directions and ran an initial collaborative design brainstorming session. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. They also managed the tendering process which secured a manufacturer for the creation of the final injection moulded prototypes. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary project involving a range of academic disciplines and commercial partners, this includes: National Lobster Hatchery who bring specific expertise in Lobster growing and marine biology, and aquaculture more generally. University of Exeter who bring scientific knowledge in areas including ecological systems, experimental fluid dynamics, physical testing and marine engineering. Fusion Marine is one of the world's leading suppliers of fish farming equipment, they bring the design and engineering expertise that helped enable the development of a suitable design for containers. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Lobster Grower - Develop the technology to fast track the aquaculture potential for the European Lobster 
Organisation National Lobster Hatchery
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Falmouth University provided expertise and knowledge in the use of digital prototyping technologies to produce prototype Sea Based Container Culture systems (SBCC) for flow tests carried out by University of Exeter. In addition the Falmouth team provided advanced research and development and CAD design expertise that played a pivotal role in the development of a flexible SBBC design appropriate for mass production using industrial injection moulding processes.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery led the consortium in this jointly funded BBSRC and Innovate UK project. They therefore managed the project as a whole and provided the expertise related to Lobster breeding and life cycles, this included existing research associated with lobster farming and related aquaculture activities. Exeter University undertook and analysed the results of a comprehensive set of flow tank tests involving a number of SBBC prototype designs. The results of this work in understanding water flow and an exchange rates informed design decisions that led to the final prototype design that was taken forward to manufacture. Fusion Marine brought experience of working in the aquaculture sector and some design experience within this sector. They provided some initial design directions and ran an initial collaborative design brainstorming session. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. They also managed the tendering process which secured a manufacturer for the creation of the final injection moulded prototypes. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary project involving a range of academic disciplines and commercial partners, this includes: National Lobster Hatchery who bring specific expertise in Lobster growing and marine biology, and aquaculture more generally. University of Exeter who bring scientific knowledge in areas including ecological systems, experimental fluid dynamics, physical testing and marine engineering. Fusion Marine is one of the world's leading suppliers of fish farming equipment, they bring the design and engineering expertise that helped enable the development of a suitable design for containers. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Lobster Grower - Develop the technology to fast track the aquaculture potential for the European Lobster 
Organisation University of Exeter
Department College of Engineering, Mathematics & Physical Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Falmouth University provided expertise and knowledge in the use of digital prototyping technologies to produce prototype Sea Based Container Culture systems (SBCC) for flow tests carried out by University of Exeter. In addition the Falmouth team provided advanced research and development and CAD design expertise that played a pivotal role in the development of a flexible SBBC design appropriate for mass production using industrial injection moulding processes.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery led the consortium in this jointly funded BBSRC and Innovate UK project. They therefore managed the project as a whole and provided the expertise related to Lobster breeding and life cycles, this included existing research associated with lobster farming and related aquaculture activities. Exeter University undertook and analysed the results of a comprehensive set of flow tank tests involving a number of SBBC prototype designs. The results of this work in understanding water flow and an exchange rates informed design decisions that led to the final prototype design that was taken forward to manufacture. Fusion Marine brought experience of working in the aquaculture sector and some design experience within this sector. They provided some initial design directions and ran an initial collaborative design brainstorming session. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. They also managed the tendering process which secured a manufacturer for the creation of the final injection moulded prototypes. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary project involving a range of academic disciplines and commercial partners, this includes: National Lobster Hatchery who bring specific expertise in Lobster growing and marine biology, and aquaculture more generally. University of Exeter who bring scientific knowledge in areas including ecological systems, experimental fluid dynamics, physical testing and marine engineering. Fusion Marine is one of the world's leading suppliers of fish farming equipment, they bring the design and engineering expertise that helped enable the development of a suitable design for containers. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Lobster Grower - Develop the technology to fast track the aquaculture potential for the European Lobster 
Organisation Westcountry Mussels of Fowey Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution Falmouth University provided expertise and knowledge in the use of digital prototyping technologies to produce prototype Sea Based Container Culture systems (SBCC) for flow tests carried out by University of Exeter. In addition the Falmouth team provided advanced research and development and CAD design expertise that played a pivotal role in the development of a flexible SBBC design appropriate for mass production using industrial injection moulding processes.
Collaborator Contribution National Lobster Hatchery led the consortium in this jointly funded BBSRC and Innovate UK project. They therefore managed the project as a whole and provided the expertise related to Lobster breeding and life cycles, this included existing research associated with lobster farming and related aquaculture activities. Exeter University undertook and analysed the results of a comprehensive set of flow tank tests involving a number of SBBC prototype designs. The results of this work in understanding water flow and an exchange rates informed design decisions that led to the final prototype design that was taken forward to manufacture. Fusion Marine brought experience of working in the aquaculture sector and some design experience within this sector. They provided some initial design directions and ran an initial collaborative design brainstorming session. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. They also managed the tendering process which secured a manufacturer for the creation of the final injection moulded prototypes. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary project involving a range of academic disciplines and commercial partners, this includes: National Lobster Hatchery who bring specific expertise in Lobster growing and marine biology, and aquaculture more generally. University of Exeter who bring scientific knowledge in areas including ecological systems, experimental fluid dynamics, physical testing and marine engineering. Fusion Marine is one of the world's leading suppliers of fish farming equipment, they bring the design and engineering expertise that helped enable the development of a suitable design for containers. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) deals with marine and aquatic science and provided the advice and expertise in aquaculture management and policy related issues. Westcountry Mussels of Fowey (WMOF), a Cornish mussel grower, provided practical insight and advice into establishing a marine licence. They brought practical knowledge and skills in the aquaculture sector and experience of setting up and running successful aquaculture businesses. They also provided the support needed to help develop a successful pilot site.
Start Year 2014