Automated Oyster Farm | 自动牡蛎农场 | 自動牡蠣農場

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Hong Kong marine farmers have been cultivating oysters for nearly 700 years, but nowadays this industry is facing multiple challenging issues, for instance, seawater pollution, excessive raft farming, farm area decrease, etc., as well as a labor shortage in the context of the covid pandemic.

In order to free the industry from labor-intensive characteristics, to increase oyster production, to purify seawater and bring in better quality seafood, and to solve many other present and future issues, I raise the proposal of an automated oyster farm. With such a device, marine farmers will not need to work from dawn to dusk to manually check on and maintain oyster rafts and cages, nor do they need to deal with extreme weather conditions at sea.

I hope that through such a device, Hong Kong's oyster industry can be preserved and developed; Farmers can get better harvest; Hong Kong's seawater quality can also be improved.

  • What if oyster farms were not only for oysters but inviting a lot of other species such as mussels, etc.
  • Can this device be transformed and applied in other marine projects, such as coral reef preservation, or entertainment projects that bring the local community more vitality?
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"Automated Oyster Farm" is investigating how to make this industry more automated and less labor-intensive.

Research Notes

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Question Driven Design

  1. What is it? What does it do?
    1. It is a floating upwelling system-driven device that allows marine farmers to breed, farm, and harvest oysters in a creative and efficient way.
  2. What are the questions this work is asking? What new knowledge are you creating?
    1. This work is raising several questions: how you gonna inflate the air big below, what does the electricity come from, and how do you farm oysters with this device. The new device requires the knowledge of dynamic balancing while floating, also demands the knowledge of fluid dynamics to stabilize the device even better.
  3. How are you going to test your assumptions?
    1. I am going to verify my assumptions by testing my prototype in different degreed surge tests. If the device is able to float and move up and down successfully in different levels of surging, it will successfully function in reality as well.
  4. How to maintain your device?
    1. The bamboo components need to be polished with a waterproof layer and need to be re-brushed every six months.
  5. What do you think are the strongest and the weakest points in your project now?
    1. The strongest point of the design is it allows marine farmers to farm oysters in a more efficient and easy way at every fixed time, without particular manual operations. The weakest point is that, except for the bamboo parts which can be handmade, the cores of the devices need to be manufactured in factories.
  6. What construction technique are you using?
    1. Bamboo construction techniques.

User, community

  1. Who uses it? Can you draw a particular user? Can you describe to me that user, how they look, your assumption on their backgrounds, abilities, preferences, and what drives them?
    1. Users of the device will be marine farmers or marine industrial companies.

Use

  1. What are the benefits users can get from the device?

No. The device is for marine farming only.

  1. What problems does your design cause?
  2. How do you operate and maintain this installation?
    1. Once the device has been put into the sea and anchored on the seabed, it will self-operate. To maintain the device, farmers just have to check the integrity of the structure and the running state of the core regularly. Once an anomaly has been detected, the device should be carried back onto the land, and go through component replacing or other kinds of repairs.
  3. How do people get on board?

By boats. The device has its board access linked to the decking.

  1. How much weight can you carry?

4 to 5 people besides the gravity load of the structure and oysters.

  1. How to maximum efficiency and convenience for the user
  2. Are there simpler ways to achieve the objective?
    1. The control of the airbag can be achieved manually, which will save a barrel of money. However, using the chipset will make the whole farming process simpler.
  3. Are there other possible use for clean seawater filtered by oysters?
    1. Clean seawater can be collected to generate downwelling conditions in this device.
  4. How long will it be in the water?
  5. Ideally, each device can stay in the water for up to six months, but it depends on the actual conditions.

Health & Safety

  1. Is it stable? Safe? ship survivability?
    1. Yes. Yes. Yes,
  2. Is the device safe and environmental friendly to the ocean
    1. Yes

Materials, process, scale

  1. What is the scale and materials? Where and how is it built? Where do the materials come from? Where do the materials go after it’s used/broken?
    1. The device will probably be six-meter wide in diameter, and four to six meters high. (including underwater part)
  2. What materials would you use? Where do you source it? Once used, where does it go?
    1. Timber, bamboo, rubber, and ropes. These materials can be collected from local areas. Once used, they can be recycled.
  3. is it recyclable
    1. The main structure is recyclable for it is made of natural materials, and the core part can be recycled by manufacturers.
  4. How long does the project take to be complete: build, bring on site and board?
  5. How to mass produce the device?

Local people can mass-produce the lower parts with bamboo, the core parts has to be mass-produced in facotries.

Energy, Waste

  1. Where does the installation get its energy from?
    1. The energy comes from the solar panels installed in the top core area.
  2. Is it sustainable and how?
    1. It is, the main structure is constructed with local sustainable materials, such as timber and bamboo, which can be grown and used to replace damaged parts.

Ecology

  1. Is your installation amicable to all marine lives?
    1. yes, the device causes no harm to the environment it's situated nor hurt marine lives nearby.
  2. How does it work? Especially the biology of it?
    1. The device will be placed and fixed on the sea surface. The self-operated core component with the chipset will monitor tide conditions, and inflate the main airbag down below to situate oysters in the best growing tidal areas. Sea waters will provide nature upwelling conditions for the oysters, and the sprinklers will moisture the oysters from above to make up downwelling conditions.
  3. Which other species will naturally be attracted to the oyster reef there, such as crabs, fish, mussels, algae and other species?

Geography

  1. Where do you think this installation would be? Choose a very specific site in Hong Kong waters. Why there? Tell me the characteristics of the place: water depth, tide, current, wave, closest port, fauna and flora, people and industries nearby.
  2. Will it be influenced by the weather condition?
    1. Yes, it will be, but the device has been designed to mitigate such impacts as much as possible.
  3. Does your device perform differently when in different geographic environments(for instance, near shore, in shallow water, and in distant seawater)?
    1. It is preferred to have the device stay in offshore areas since it will probably run aground near the coast.

Money

  1. Is it cost-effective?
    1. It is, the main part of the device can be constructed with local recycled material such as timber or bamboo, which saves a barrel of money.
  2. Is it possible to be mass-produced?
    1. It is.
  3. What is the product / outcome of this installation? Who benefits from it? What is the business model of this?
    1. The device will result in a more efficient farming process. Beneficiaries will be local marine farmers or marine industrial companies. Farmers can buy cores from factories directly, or they can rent from particular platforms, so there will be direct-selling and platform-renting two models.