A project which turns captured carbon dioxide into animal feed has just received major funding from the UK government

The ‘carbon recycling’ scheme will provide sustainable food for fish and poultry farms which has an up to 75 per cent smaller carbon footprint than other food sources.

Written by: Rosie Frost / Euronews.com

While we are becoming increasingly aware that a meat-based diet has a greater environmental impact than a plant-based one, few know that the biggest environmental impact comes from the food the animals eat. Just last week an article published in the Journal Science claimed that a fifth of soy and beef imported into the EU from Brazil came from illegally deforested land.

In 2017, the WWF found that 75 per cent of global soy and maize production was being grown to feed animals, mostly pigs and poultry. With diets around the world tending towards higher consumption of meat, the production of animal feed poses a growing threat to biodiversity as land is cleared to grow more crops.


Animal feed is usually made from soy, fishmeal or grains – which can lead to these devastating environmental impacts. This new process, created by Deep Branch Biotechnology, takes CO2 from industrial emissions and uses it as an energy source for microbes which generate a single-cell protein specially designed for animal feed.

CEO of the company, Peter Rowe, explained that the technology could help reduce the UK’s reliance on carbon-intensive international supply chains. Its potential use in food for fish and poultry “represents a new way of generating more sustainable animal feeds.”

Making Farming Carbon Neutral

To provide a source of industrial CO2 for the process, Deep Branch has partnered with a power station in the north of England which was recently converted to burn renewable biomass instead of coal.

Drax Power Station in Selby is the UK’s largest power station and supplies 5 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Drax has ambitions to become carbon negative by 2030 and capturing the CO2 it emits for projects like this one is part of this plan. Already the plant has been experimenting with using its captured CO2 to create new plastic products.

They have been awarded £3 million (€ 3.3 million) in funding by the government to test whether the process will work on a larger scale and what the overall carbon emissions would be.

This is partnership represents part of a wider consortium of 10 industry and academic groups called REACT-FIRST which received the £3 million funding. The consortium is “committed to tackling the global climate crisis and the goal of achieving neutral/negative carbon emissions”.

“Currently, most animal feed protein sources are imported from overseas, making the UK dependent on complicated and fragile supply chains,” said Rowe. “REACT-FIRST has been created to focus solely on addressing this problem.”

REACT-FIRST also includes Nottingham Trent University and UK supermarket Sainsbury’s alongside a number of other agriculture technology companies.

From Robotic Fruit Picking to Vertical Farming

The Yorkshire project is one of nine which received part of a £24 million funding package aimed at making the food production system in the UK more efficient. Others included a vertical fruit grower in London, AI technology being used to improve the efficiency of farms and a project testing whether robots can be used to carry out energy-intensive jobs like picking fruit.

“From robotics assisting our farmers in fruit picking, to technology that converts CO2 to clean animal feed, the incredible projects we are backing today represent the future of farming,” said UK Science Minister, Amanda Solloway.

She added that using the “best of British science” the projects chosen by the government would “help accelerate our transition to net-zero food production”.


Life found in rocks beneath the ocean floor give scientists hope of finding life on Mars

(CNN)When scientists find microbial life thriving in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, it gives them hope that they may be able to find life on other planets.

Now, researchers have discovered billions of bacteria living in tiny cracks in volcanic rocks beneath the ocean floor, more than nine miles below the surface of the ocean and an additional 300 feet below the ocean floor, according to a new study published Thursday.
And they believe that similar tiny, clay-filled cracks in rocks on Mars or below its surface could be a similar hub for life.
The upper oceanic crust, known as the ocean floor, has been continuously created on Earth for about 3.8 billion years. Underwater volcanoes release lava at 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit that solidifies into basaltic rock as the hot rock reacts to the cold ocean depths.
Hydrothermal vents along the ocean floor have been known to sustain bacteria and other life that convert minerals into energy, rather than light.
Meteorites reveal that Martian water came from different sources

Meteorites reveal that Martian water came from different sources
Previously, researchers have studied bacteria systems that were between 3.5 and 8 million years old. But 90% of the ocean floor is much older than that.
Yohey Suzuki, an associate professor in the University of Tokyo’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science, and his colleagues investigated samples of basaltic lava found 328 feet below the ocean floor between Tahiti and New Zealand that ranged from 33 to 104 million years old.
There, they found a wealth of single-celled microbial life living in tiny cracks among the rock, which were rich with iron and clay. To be exact, they estimate that 10 billion bacterial cells live per cubic centimeter in these communities. (Bacteria known to live in mud along the seafloor pales in comparison, at 100 cells per cubic centimeter.)
Bacteria live densely packed into tunnels of clay minerals found in this sample of solid rock.

The researchers believe the iron content in the clay found deep below the ocean floor supports the growth of such large bacterial communities. The study published in the journal Communications Biology.
“I thought it was a dream, seeing such rich microbial life in rocks,” Suzuki said, “I am now almost over-expecting that I can find life on Mars. If not, it must be that life relies on some other process that Mars does not have, like plate tectonics.”

From the ocean floor to Mars

The cracks form when the lava cools, creating narrow spaces less than one millimeter across. Millions of years of residue and buildup fill them with mineral-infused clay. Then, bacteria find a nice home in them and settle in.
“These cracks are a very friendly place for life. Clay minerals are like a magic material on Earth; if you can find clay minerals, you can almost always find microbes living in them,” Suzuki said.
The bacteria Suzuki and his colleagues found is similar to how our cells make energy, a process that relies on organic nutrients in oxygen. Instead of the resources humans get from Earth’s surface, they get what they need from the clay minerals.
The Curiosity rover found organic molecules on Mars. This is why they're exciting
Clay is something that NASA’s Curiosity rover has explored quite a bit on Mars.
Since Curiosity landed in 2012, it’s been exploring Gale Crater, a vast and dry ancient lake bed with a 16,404-foot mountain — Mount Sharp — at its center.
Streams and lakes likely filled Gale Crater billions of years ago, which is why NASA landed the rover there in 2012. Scientists want to know if ancient Mars once supported microbial life.
Mars, like Earth, also has a basaltic crust that formed four billion years ago. And in recent years, subsurface water and methane have been detected on the Red Planet.
Curiosity has observed and drilled samples of rocks rich in clay from the lake bed.
The clay minerals present in those rocks on the Martian surface could be similar to those in the ocean rock cracks.
“Minerals are like a fingerprint for what conditions were present when the clay formed. Neutral to slightly alkaline levels, low temperature, moderate salinity, iron-rich environment, basalt rock — all of these conditions are shared between the deep ocean and the surface of Mars,” said Suzuki.
Curiosity rover detects highest levels of methane on Mars

His team is collaborating with researchers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to come up with a plan for examining and analyzing rock samples that will one day be returned from Mars.
A 3D X-ray could help them peek inside the samples and search for cracks filled with minerals — and maybe find evidence of life.
“This discovery of life where no one expected it in solid rock below the seafloor may be changing the game for the search for life in space,” said Suzuki.

Studying the ocean floor

But the quest for bacteria deep beneath the ocean floor is a tricky one.
“Honestly, it was a very unexpected discovery. I was very lucky, because I almost gave up,” said Suzuki.
Could life have existed on a warm, wet Mars? Ancient Earth crater may explain how

The samples were collected in 2010 during the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, an international marine research program, which took researchers from Tahiti to New Zealand. It stopped at three locations along the way, using a 9.7-mile-long metal tube to reach the ocean floor and then drill 410 feet below it. Core samples were retrieved, including mud, sediment and solid rock.
The samples were taken far from hydrothermal vents to prevent contamination, in case the bacteria was carried from one of them to the rocks, and the rocks were sterilized when they were brought up.
Suzuki thinly sliced the rock to find the bacteria.

Chipping away and grinding the rock didn’t yield any results.
Suzuki, inspired by the thin slices of tissue samples that pathologists use to diagnose diseases, coated the rocks in epoxy to maintain the rock shape, then sliced thin layers. He washed the thin pieces with dye that would stain any DNA present.
Beneath his microscope, he saw green bacterial cells, surrounded by orange clay and black rock. Suzuki was able to conduct whole genome DNA analysis and identify what was living inside the cracks.
He found evidence of life.

Research institute breeds new colors in captive shrimps

Photo courtesy of the Fisheries Research Institute

Taipei, April 17 (CNA) Taiwan has succeeded in breeding two new color variants in captive harlequin shrimps, a species of saltwater crustacean found in coral reefs in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans, the Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) said Friday.

Wild harlequin shrimps that live in waters in the East Pacific typically have deep pinkish-purple spots with yellow edges, while those that live in the Indian Ocean and the West Pacific tend to be more brownish with a blue edge.

Through gene recombination and hybridization, people will now have the option of raising this type of pet shrimp in shades of indigo blue and cobalt blue in fish tanks, the institute said.

The aquarium fish market is currently the third largest pet market after dogs and cats in Taiwan, it said, indicating that the market for aquarium shrimp has increased significantly in recent years.

According to the FRI, the output value of ornamental shrimp in Taiwan exceeds NT$200 million (US$6.64 million) annually.

Based on statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the institute said the global aquarium fish market in 2019 was worth approximately US$15 billion to US$20 billion.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Ko Lin)

The Great Barrier Reef likely just experienced its most widespread bleaching event on record

(CNN)Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has likely experienced its most widespread bleaching event on record, according to a US government scientist who monitors the world’s coral reefs.

This marks the third mass bleaching event on the reef in just the last five years.
Climate change could kill all of Earth’s coral reefs by 2100, scientists warn
And scientists say that the rapid warming of the planet due to human emissions of heat-trapping gases are to blame.
On the heels of severe bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 that left half of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef dead, scientists fear this one could be a devastating blow.
“If we do not deal with climate change quickly … we are going to continue to see more severe and more frequent bleaching, and we are going to see the loss of coral reefs in much of the world,” said Dr. C. Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch.
The mass bleaching conditions were observed by Coral Reef Watch, which uses remote sensing and modeling to predict and monitor for signs of bleaching.

A file photo taken in October 2016 shows coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Scientists say that another mass bleaching event has occurred in 2020.

Eakin says that the bleaching in 2016 and 2017 was extremely intense, but severe damage was concentrated in a few hotspots in the northern and central parts of the reef.
Early indications show that this latest event was not as damaging, but that a much larger area of reef experienced at least some bleaching.
Past bleaching events have typically occurred in years with a strong El Niño-Southern Oscillation, a climate phenomena that can increase the odds of a host of extreme weather events around the globe.
El Niño is characterized by warmer waters in the Pacific ocean, which makes bleaching events in the region more likely. But there is no El Niño currently, which Eakin says makes this bleaching that much more surprising — and frightening.
“The upper ocean has absorbed a tremendous amount of heat in recent years, and it has really put coral reefs around the globe much closer to their upper thermal limits.”

Why the Great Barrier Reef is so critical

Coral reefs are some of the most vibrant marine ecosystems on the planet — between a quarter and one-third of all marine species rely on them at some point in their life cycle.
And none is more vital than the Great Barrier Reef.
Covering nearly 133,000 square miles, it is the world’s largest coral reef and is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of hard corals and dozens of other species.
It’s also a vital resource to Australia’s economy, contributing more than $5.6 billion annually and supporting tens of thousands of jobs.
The abnormally hot ocean temperatures that led to this year’s bleaching began in February and stretched all the way into early March. As you can see from the animation below, almost the entire reef was under a bleaching alert from mid-February until mid-March.
Temperatures have since cooled and the bleaching has subsided, but scientists in Australia are currently assessing the damage to the reef’s health.
A fuller picture should come into focus in the coming weeks. Though initial reports indicate that this year’s bleaching may not be as severe as in 2016 or 2017, Eakin says it appears few parts of the reef have been spared.
“This time it is not as intense, but it’s much more widespread, so we’re seeing it all over the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

The future of coral reefs looks grim

Warm ocean temperatures are the main driver of coral bleaching.
Corals turn white as a stress response to warm water temperatures by expelling the algae that grows inside them, which is their main energy source and gives them their color.

Oceans are warming at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in every second

Oceans are warming at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in every second
Bleaching doesn’t kill coral immediately. But if temperatures remain high, eventually the coral will die, destroying a natural habitat for many species of marine life.
“When they’re bleached, corals are starving, injured and more susceptible to disease, so [recovery] is really a question of how long and intense the heat stress is and how healthy the coral was to begin with,” Eakin said.
For the Great Barrier Reef to fully recover from bleaching that has occurred would take decades, Eakin says.
But because of the massive amounts of heat the world’s oceans have already absorbed, the reef likely won’t have the chance to recover before it bleaches again.
“If it takes decades for a reef to recover … what chance do we have for reefs recovering when events are coming back this fast?” he said.
Though researchers around the world are exploring ways to revive reefs, Eakin says those efforts will not be enough if we don’t address the root cause of their demise — human-caused climate change.
“We have to address climate change if we want to have coral reefs in the future.”

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/25/world/great-barrier-reef-bleaching-2020-climate-change-trnd/index.html




Modularisation – Establishing New Ship Building Mindsets, Changing The Way Ships Are Ordered

In the TrAM project 14 project partners work together to develop a zero-emission fast going passenger vessel through advanced modular production. “Trying to change the industry’s perception of modular and more standardized vessels has been the biggest challenge,” say modular experts Tobias Seidenberg and Christoph Jürgenhake of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design IEM.

In addition to developing and building a zero-emission demonstrator fast ferry, the TrAM project aims to develop never-before seen modular design and production methods for such vessels. The project is revolutionary both in terms of zero emission technology and manufacturing methods, and will contribute to making electric-powered high-speed vessels competitive in terms of both cost and the environment.

From cars to ships

“Today ships are most often designed as a one-off, even though many of them are built according to almost exactly the same specifications. We are examining the opportunities for creating modules that can be reused across application cases. By combining advanced modular production principles with ship design and construction methods, the TrAM project will develop a more efficient modular system integration than the currently favoured function orientated modularity systems,” says M.Eng. Tobias Seidenberg of project partner Fraunhofer IEM.

Modularisation can, and should, change the way ships are ordered

Image Credits: maritimecleantech.no

The German institute has worked on modular architectures for cars for major customers such as the Volkswagen Group, and leads TrAM’s work on adapting modularity models from the automotive and aviation industry to the needs of the maritime industry. The proposed modular concept will be validated and refined through one physical demonstrator and two replicators. The demonstrator will be a zero-emissions passenger ferry that will service a multi-stop commuter route into the Norwegian city of Stavanger from January 2022. The replicators will be developed for the rivers and channels in London and Belgium.

Beyond Lego

“In essence, the project is about how to build the same ship for different purposes – creating one ship family for three different routes. Our goal is to develop a modularisation methodology that allows all three vessels to have the same systems and interfaces inside the hull and the same rough structures – maybe with a partly different hull shape for each vessel,” elaborates Dr. Ing. Christoph Jürgenhake at Fraunhofer IEM. He brings several years’ experience with modularisation from Airbus to the TrAM project.

Modularisation is often explained as using the “Lego principle” in design and construction. But Fraunhofer’s function first approach is noteably different from that of the traditional mechanical designer.

“While a mechanical designer normally has a geometrical point of view and starts with the shape, we start with a functional point of view – asking where we can imbed which functions. Then we try to identify which functions belong together, before deriving some sort of shape from that,” Jürgenhake explains.

It’s what’s inside that counts

Initially, the two colleagues were concerned that the project would only lead to very abstract modularisation models, like general design and production guidelines. But during the first year and a half of their research, ideas for specific TrAM modules have emerged.

“Together with colleagues from the Strathclyde University in Scotland we are thinking about modularising different sections of the hull, allowing the hull to be more easily adapted to each use case. But the essence of the TrAM modularisation effort is to have the complete inside and the interfaces of the vessel in easily adaptable modules,” Jürgenhake says.

One proposal includes a modular bridge arrangement. “It became obvious to us that there’s no reason to build a different bridge for each of the three TrAM vessels. We are currently thinking of a bridge module that can be equipped completely by the supplier and adapted to each use case. This is a huge benefit for the shipbuilder, allowing plug and play during construction of the next vessels in the family.”

Modular power supply

They also have ideas for a modular power module in which all the batteries and power electronics are stored on the upper level of the vessel instead of inside the hull.

“This is an advantage for the future. We know that battery technology will develop rapidly in the coming years, and to have the power module as an easily accessible unit on top of the vessel will benefit future retrofitting, allowing easier battery replacement or integration of new power sources like fuel cells,” Seidenberg says.

Interior modules like cafeterias are also being looked into. “For example, in London, buying snacks and beverages on board constitutes a substantial part of the customer experience. We would like to see a modularised cafeteria on the TrAM vessels. If there is enough space, this can be a manned cafeteria, but the module could also consist of self-service vending machines. Regardless of size, the key is to have all the interfaces for cafeteria services planned into your hull, including freshwater supply, energy supply, and more.” This feature will also afford future owners increased flexibility to modify the cafeteria area, Seidenberg explains.

Establishing a new mindset

Jürgenhake and Seidenberg are clear on the biggest challenge in the project so far. “In general, the main challenge has been to convince the transportation and maritime industries that modularisation is a good approach in ship design, to open their eyes to a new mindset,” says Jürgenhake.

Both he and Seidenberg believe modularisation can and should change the way ships are ordered. “There is a dominant belief that complete optimisation is the only way to design a ship. This is a result of today’s extremely specified tender processes, which lead to one-off ships due to all the requirements vessel owners include in their tenders.” He cites a common example: “Why specify a rigorous top speed if a vessel only uses that speed 10-15 percent of the time, and still keeps to its timetable?” Jürgenhake asks.

“The maritime industry also has a strong focus on initial price,” Seidenberg adds. “We believe the industry needs to look more at lifetime costs, like the aviation industry does. We are now in the process of validating estimates showing that the lifetime cost of a cheaper, more standardised modular vessel actually can be lower than an individually designed ship operating on the same route. If our numbers are correct, I believe this will be an eye-opener,” he says.

Completing the last leg

As the demonstrator vessel moves into the detailed design phase, Fraunhofer IEM’s task is to document all their findings. They expect to finish up in September or October. “Our scope of delivery to the project will be the methods used to modularise the vessel, accompanied by examples and suggestions. We would also like to include some sort of configurator tool, visualising the methodology for the shipbuilder through examples from the three TrAM use cases and showing what you can achieve by modularisation,” Seidenberg concludes.

Construction of the demonstrator vessel will commence in early 2021. The fully electric fast ferry is scheduled to enter commercial operation for Kolumbus in Stavanger on January 1st, 2022.

Source: https://www.marineinsight.com/shipping-news/modularisation-establishing-new-ship-building-mindsets-changing-the-way-ships-are-ordered/

Google parent Alphabet invents fish recognition system

Alphabet, parent company to Google, invests in underwater cameras that can track every fish in huge farms.

MOUNTAINVIEW, CA – Alphabet, parent company to Google, announced yesterday that it’s next moonshot is called Tidal, a new project that aims to protect the ocean and preserve its ability to support life and help feed humanity, sustainably.

By automatically logging and tracking every fish move, Alphabet hopes to improve ocean health and has therefore invented a system that will eventually recognise and monitor every individual fish in farms that can hold over thousands of fish, states a press release.

“Our initial area of focus is on developing technologies that bring greater visibility and understanding of what’s happening under the water,” says Neil Dave, managing director of Tidal.

Tidal states that the collaboration of creating fish recognition systems is just one of the areas, they wish to improve with technology.

“As we validate our technology and learn more about the ocean environment, we plan to apply what we’ve learned to other fields and problems, with the help of ocean health experts and other organizations eager to find new solutions to protect and preserve this precious resource,” says Neil Dave.

Source: https://www.portandterminal.com/google-parent-company-alphabet-launches-tidal-to-track-fish-behaviour/

9 Japanese Companies Establish ‘Ship Carbon Recycling Working Group’, Paving Paths To A Decarbonized Society

Japanese nine companies (Note 1) have started the Ship Carbon Recycling Working Group (hereinafter referred to as “WG”) formed within Japan’s Carbon Capture & Reuse (CCR) Study Group (Note 2), and held its first meeting. Participating members are EX Research Institute Ltd., Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Japan Marine United Corporation, JFE Steel Corporation, JGC Corporation, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., Nippon Kaiji Kyokai(ClassNK), Nippon Steel Corporation, and Sanoyas Shipbuilding Corporation.

As the effects of climate change become apparent, carbon recycling, a method used to capture and reuse emitted carbon dioxide (CO2), is attracting attention as one of the paths to a decarbonized society.

Formed within the CCR Study Group in August 2019, the WG aims to explore the feasibility of the concept of utilizing methanation technology (Note 3) for zero-emission ship fuels (Note 4). Through its activities, the WG aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero in sea transportation, which accounts for 99.6% of Japanese imports and exports, and thereby contribute to the formation of a sustainable society.

Nine Companies Started Ship Carbon Recycling WG Of Japan's CCR Study Group

(Figure 1) | Image Credits: jgc.com

Specifically, the nine companies listed above plan to assume carbon recycling supply chain of methanation fuel that involves the supply of feedstock CO2, transportation of the feedstock, methanation, and conversion into marine fuel. They will calculate the estimated amount of CO2 emissions in the supply chain, and based on these results, identify technical challenges and develop a roadmap for its realization.

The first stage of activities involves: (1) Separation, capture and liquefaction of CO2 emitted from steelworks (2) Transportation of liquefied CO2 by ship to a hydrogen supply site (3) Generation of synthetic methane from CO2 and hydrogen by methanation reaction, and (4) Liquefaction of the synthetic methane and using it as marine fuel (Figure 1).

In addition to obtaining an approximate value of CO2 emissions in this assumed supply chain, the group will also identify challenges and decide whether to proceed with subsequent next-stage activities along with the content of those activities. The acquired knowledge will also be widely disclosed in and out of the industry.