Jump to content
kellenw

Fellow APN member building the world's biggest commercial AP system?

Recommended Posts

RupertofOz recently posted the following on BYAP in reference to the MASSIVE project that fellow Aquaponics Nation member, Paul Van der Werf (Earthan Group), is heading up in the United Arab Emirates:
 

This one looks like it might be big. 14 greenhouses, 4000m2, 1 acre or 43055ft2 with 3577m2 of plant growing area. roughly 1,000,000 plants per year. With a little 30 ton per year fish farm attached.

Must be close.... to the world's biggest... construction began yesterday...

Reuses 100% of the water and is smack in the middle of the desert dealing with temps up to 52c....

In terms of water use it grows 1kg of food per 40 litres of water.... worst case

 
Hopefully Paul will be willing to share some of his experience when he returns home from the project.

post-356-0-40224100-1381469997_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey guys and gals.

 

This system may not be the largest in the world but certainly the largest in these parts.  It is important to keep it in perspective, this is not a commercial aquaponic system it is a commercial pilot for a proposed larger facility.  Basically this is just a test facility which will be used as the nursery and hatchery for the larger one.  Discussions have started for the larger design which will be between 10 and 15 hectares should this pilot bear out the information we need to commercialize it.  No we will not be replicating this one, that would not be wise.

 

The system itself is, in its purest form, integrated aquaculture.  It has a 30 ton minimum recirculating aquaculture system inside an insulated building which is environmentally controlled with all that a recirculating system entails. 

 

We had considered growing trout in the desert but at this scale the cooling required was not worth the investment.  We will evaluate the species of fish for the larger facility, currently Tilapia and we are investigation several other species.  We have capacity to breed fish in the quarantine room within the fish shed or buy fingerlings in.  So we have some flexibility with fish supply which is uncertain at this point.

 

Like everywhere else Tilapia have a very low value here in UAE which makes it very difficult to see long term viability.  Frozen imports are about a dollar a kg and fresh import (questionable fresh) are around $3.20/kg.  I doubt that Tilapia will be a long term crop and expect we will only use it to skill the staff up during the first year.

 

It has a recirculating floating raft set up inside a 4000m2 polycarbonate/polyethylene greenhouse with 3577m2 of growing space (approx. 90% use of capital space).  The greenhouse is 112 metres long by 36 metres wide.  Cooling pad the length of one side and 28 extraction fans on the other with some mixing fans throughout.  It has capacity to grow around 1,000,000 plants per year or 100 ton (100gram) of greens.

 

Plant species have not been chosen yet but we will trial 7 or 8 different types and see what the market wants from there, then we will set the production and controls to suit one or two crop types.  The reality is 1 acre is not much in the way of farming so we can not viably produce too much variety of crop if we are to sell all if it through markets.  The alternative is to micromanage the facility and sales which I do not wish to do.  We are seeking an experience production technician to manage the farm.

 

The integration between the two main components is very much a replication of biological hydroponics.  It is fully controlled across all parameters including humidity, sunlight, temperature, ph, conductivity and dissolved oxygen (injection).  It uses 100% of the water and nutrient wastes and even collects water from the environment control of the fish shed as there is very little rain here.

 

I wont compare this system to soil based agriculture because it would be comparing a car to push bike.  The reality is it will use water as does all farming.  Here is some comparisons of water consumption for this system between its parts. 

  • In the worst case scenario it will use 5.2 million litres of water per year. 
  • The aquaculture by itself produces 1kg of food (fish) per 175 litres of water. 
  • The hydroponics by itself produces 1kg of food (greens) per 52 litres of water. 
  • The combination of the two produces 1kg of food per 40 litres of water.

This is considerably higher than what the actual use will be but a reasonable prediction.

 

I have been posting updates only on my facebook page with photos as we progress through the construction.  I am expected to have it built and commissioned by the 19th of December this year.  To design and build this in as little as 3 months is a huge undertaking but we are currently on track.

 

See you around the traps

Paul

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Paul,

 

Congratulations on securing this project.

 

Good to see you operating at the level for which you've trained yourself.

 

Looking forward to seeing what it looks like when it's finished.

 

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul,

I assume your freshwater source of water will come from desalinization? How cost effective is it to do that?

 

 

Hi Cecil,

 

Good question.

 

We have a few options for water supply.  There are three bores on the site, however they are about 1200 feet down and use a 7kw pump to bring it up and require 1 hour pumping and 1 hour off.  One of the bores is not suitable as it has 6000mg/L salt.  The other two are being tested next week.  One of them is showing promise, however my concern is the rate at which these bored drop.  I estimate about 3 to 5 years will see them fall another 300 feet at which point the water will not be usable.  So a bit of concern with the future of that water source no matter the quality.

 

There is an option to use Municipality water supply, which is desal, remineralized and chlorinated.  Not sure on the cost of this as yet and may not be an option as the water mains do not pass the property, but one to keep in mind as we move forward.

 

The other option which as this point is looking more promising is to truck it in from 20 minutes away.  This is a natural water source that does not require desal.  I am avoiding desal. as much as I can but if we have to install another one onsite with capacity for 15000 gals per day the cost is about $5K connected to the current pumping from the bore.

 

If we use desal. all of the ionic minerals will be stripped and we will need to provide supplemental micronutrients somewhere downstream which we have allowed for.

 

The cost of all the options is not yet certain.  Food for thought, it will take 75 x 5000 gal trucks just to fill it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Cecil,

 

Good question.

 

We have a few options for water supply.  There are three bores on the site, however they are about 1200 feet down and use a 7kw pump to bring it up and require 1 hour pumping and 1 hour off.  One of the bores is not suitable as it has 6000mg/L salt.  The other two are being tested next week.  One of them is showing promise, however my concern is the rate at which these bored drop.  I estimate about 3 to 5 years will see them fall another 300 feet at which point the water will not be usable.  So a bit of concern with the future of that water source no matter the quality.

 I

There is an option to use Municipality water supply, which is desal, remineralized and chlorinated.  Not sure on the cost of this as yet and may not be an option as the water mains do not pass the property, but one to keep in mind as we move forward.

 

The other option which as this point is looking more promising is to truck it in from 20 minutes away.  This is a natural water source that does not require desal.  I am avoiding desal. as much as I can but if we have to install another one onsite with capacity for 15000 gals per day the cost is about $5K connected to the current pumping from the bore.

 

If we use desal. all of the ionic minerals will be stripped and we will need to provide supplemental micronutrients somewhere downstream which we have allowed for.

 

The cost of all the options is not yet certain.  Food for thought, it will take 75 x 5000 gal trucks just to fill it.

Yikes! That would be a deal killer to me!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yikes! That would be a deal killer to me!

 

Water supply is a major issue Cecil.  Heat is not, even though it reaches 52c here in summer and does not let up at night.  We are awaiting some test results for the three bores onsite.  We will truck the water in to fill the system.  If we take the municipality water option, keep doing so until it is connected.  In that case it will be one 5000 gallon truck load per day during peak of summer.  It is a good thing we are building in winter.

 

Here are a few shots of it coming together.  Today marks the one month milestone since we first broke ground.  Eight weeks to go!

Edited by Earthan Group (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations Paul.

 

Even if you return to Australia during the wet season, it will feel like you're coming home to a cooler place.

 

Are you able to talk about the operating details of the project yet?  Fish species, plant types, etc?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt I will be home anytime soon Gary.  I am shifting my base of operations here while I ramp up the next stage of development.  We have appointed a farm manager for the pilot, so he and I will be going into the details over the next month (fish, plants, markets etc).  Following that I will be heading up the commercialization of this pilot to 10 hectares providing the numbers stack up on this one and the scale gets us to the cost per m2 we are looking for.

 

On that note, I have several other very large projects that want to get started and are waiting for me to finish this one (which I will not have time for) and do you think I can find a commercial aquaponic consultant?... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Ande,

 

Until we have the system tested and commissioned the fish will be Tilapia, which is a very poor choice for anyone doing RAS or Aquaponics.  Tilapia simply do not have the sale value you expect from these systems.  Getting freshwater fish is very difficult here. We can produce just about any commercial exploited species on the planet  but getting them freighted here is another question.  There is access to Barramundi here which will be a good choice so we may go with that next year. 

 

Following the trials we will switch to salt water species for another round of research.  Then we can do  locally recognized and accepted species.  However there is only one that has enough research done on it to justify its production, the others still need pilot work completed. 

 

All in all some very serious challenges ahead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will be exiting to see what temp you are able to hold high/low on the water thru the trials maybe sturgon (caviar) can be a specie ?

 

Have you draged your family along for the job ? or is it only, you trawelling back and forth, on a sort of scedule?

 

cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will be exiting to see what temp you are able to hold high/low on the water thru the trials maybe sturgon (caviar) can be a specie ?

 

Have you draged your family along for the job ? or is it only, you trawelling back and forth, on a sort of scedule?

 

cheers

 

Hi Ande,

 

I have been living here for the duration.  My family are flying here on the 16th to spend xmas here then they will go home without me....

 

The temperatures will be very interesting.  We have the capacity to push the temps down to 18c but we have to measure how economical that will be.  The shed is fully insulated, even the concrete in the ground is insulated and the water from the fish system does not go out to the green house...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 1 acre (4,000m2 or 43,000ft2) aquaponic greenhouse is on and running... Smack on time! I have created the greenhouse and the hydroponic system in it to be as efficient on the capital space as it can be without compromising the functionality and workspace. Currently we use 90% of the space inside specifically for growing food.

If we were to grow greens we will produce around 1,560,000 plants per year, roughly 150 ton pa or 30,000 per week. It is a good starting point for a commercial pilot to gather the information required to test key business assumptions in the 100,000m2 commercial system planning.

 

For those using Facebook, the entire construction process photos have been posted on my page https://www.facebook.com/earthangroup

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi EG

Congrats on the milestone arivale on scedule, that is a huge achivement IMO, even more so being in UAE, well done :cool:

 

I hope that gives you lots of spare time, to spend with your family ,and show them around, during the christmas hollydays :)

I turn 50 years, on the 16. so I have a lot of family comming here, to cellebrate me, and Christmas, at my house this year, and I'm way behind scedule  :eek: (my wife says :huh:

 

I'm not on facebook but I could still read/see the info on your link thanks, I miss your homepage and hope you get it up and running again in the new year :biggrin:

 

cheers

Edited by ande (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

 

We are circling around the final electronics in this system.  Some of these things take time.  Had to fly in a specialist from Singapore next week to do the data systems integration then we are good to go.

 

We start seeding next Thursday while we tweak the system and finish filling it. Drilling drilling drilling raft holes..... Fish are about 1 month away to give me time to get any kinks out of the system.

 

There is still a huge amount of back end business development work to do and we have to go through HACCP and other certifications to sell to public.

 

The feasibility study is nearly done and the first draft of it would end some arguments about commercial aquaponics, though knowing these communities it would start a few new ones.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Paul,

 

Impressive structure.

 

The feasibility study is nearly done and the first draft of it would end some arguments about commercial aquaponics…..

 

Is the feasibility study based on a pilot-scale project……or computer-modelling?

 

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...