The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System

renewable energy, carbon dioxide sink, biodiesel, and food from the ocean

Algae/Marine Plants

Martin on Apr 12th 2008

It may be odd to think of a plant this way but if we consider it as a piece of technology then a plant is a self-replicating photosynthetic battery. In fact, plants are far better at converting solar energy into a usable form than anything humans have or are likely to engineer, and marine plants are the fastest growing plants of all. Marine plants, either single-celled like micro-algae or their multicellular cousins the kelps, do not have to spend part of their captured energy in building bodies that have to resist gravity. So, they can grow and reproduce much faster than plants on land.

Of course, there are other limiting factors to plant growth. Every gardener knows that plants require sunlight, water and nutrients in the form of fertilizer. In the ocean, sunlight and water are at their maximum supply so all that is required is fertilizer. Throughout most of human history, fertilizer in the form of animal dung was applied to farm land to increase productivity. In the 19th century this technology had reached its limits and many thinkers predicted a great famine. This was averted by the discovery that fossil fuels could be used to make artificial fertilizer. It is this process that underpins modern agriculture.   

The scale of the manufacture of chemical fertilizer makes it one of the larger consumers of petrochemicals on earth and like all processes which consume fossil fuels it is unsustainable.

The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System manages to grow vast quantities of plant biomass without the need for chemical fertilizers. By siphoning deep ocean water (DOW) into the lagoon of the artifical atoll, perfect conditions are created for the growth of marine plants. DOW represents over ninety percent of the oceans volume and so can be considered in limitless supply.

Any plants grown in a TIE System are contained and so can be quantified and commercialized for their carbon credit value as well as being sold as the source material for biodiesel, methane and/or ethanol. Of course, marine plants will also serve as food for different organisms from shrimp to molluscs. It will be down to the operator of the individual TIE Sytem to determine the budget of the plants grown in the lagoon and how they wish to allocate it to food and/or fuel.