The physical model demonstrates the configuration of one module of FLUPSY unit and surrounding floating deck units (pink blocks).
Since the oyster farming industry has started up, oyster farmers have been working on floating oyster rafts made of cross-anchored bamboo sticks and plastic floats.
Although this farming method was adopted long time ago, the harvesting process requires the farmers to bend their bodies to pull out strings of oysters one by one.
The long hours of work is taxing to the physical health of the oyster farmers (especially the spinal chord), while the extremely narrow environment provides insufficient space for mobility.
In consideration of the sustainability of this industry, the well-being of the oyster farmers and their working environment should be addressed. This design is focused on alleviating the abovementioned issues by proposing a flexible floating platform that replaces the current oyster rafts.
- Is it possible to utilize the existing and available floating deck units (500x500x400mm) as floats and circulation platforms for oyster farmers to move around?
- Could we use mechanical assistance to replace the existing harvesting method manually?
- Could we maintain the harvesting volume of oysters in the new design, assuming that the platform size is the same as an ordinary oyster raft?
- Could we propose an idea that is harmless to the environment (e.g. zero carbon emissions)?
- Could the design be affordable, sustainable, easy to build, maintain and replace in overall?
- In response to the problems addressed, the design aims at providing ease of access and convenience of harvest to the working environment
- If the physical health and working environment of the oyster farmers are improved, the overall industry can be more sustainable.
- The replicable floating modules can be produced, while easy to manage so as to increase productivity and harvest amount
Research & Development
- What is it? What does it do?
- What are the questions this work is asking? What new knowledge are you creating?
- How are you going to test your assumptions?
- How to maintain your device?
- What do you think are the strongest and the weakest points in your project now?
- What construction technique are you using?
This is a modular design that consists of available floating deck units and covered oyster tanks. It is a floating platform which is easily constructed and reconfigured to facilitate oyster farming.
This design is based on the observation of the daily work of oyster farmers, where they have to bend down their body to harvest oysters in a packed environment (bamboo sticks). By implementing modular design into flupsy floating structures with a pulley system, it is aimed at easing the job of oyster farmers. By creating compatible walking platform and oyster reefs, the combination can be mass produced and increase working efficiency.
The device will be scaled down into physical models to test the stability and how it floats on water.
The oyster tanks, flupsy device and floating decks can be removed and replaced in single modules.
The device is very easy and simple to assemble and maintained, but it may not be very resistant to adverse weather conditions such as typhoons at the moment.
Simple technique is sufficient as the modules can be connected to each other like puzzles. The flupsy tanks can be attached to the floating deck with ropes anchoring the timber frames.
- 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?
The device can mainly server oyster farmers as they are the main stakeholder in the industry. It is expected that this project can facilitate the users regardless to their age, knowledge and experience as it is easy to operate. The project also aims at promoting the oyster farming industry to the community, thus the accessible floating decks encourage educational parties to host tours and site visits on the floating structure.
- What are the benefits users can get from the device?
- What problems does your design cause?
- How do you operate and maintain this installation?
- How do people get on board?
- How much weight can you carry?
- How to maximise efficiency and convenience for the user?
- Are there simpler ways to achieve the objective?
- Are there other possible use for clean seawater filtered by oysters?
- How long will it be in the water?
As farming and harvesting oysters is easier by this installation, the oyster farmers can be more productive with better postures. Users can aim at a higher yield of oysters under the completion of the budgeted project.
The platform might be undesirable during heavy rain and adverse weather. As modules are closely attached to one another, overcrowding of farming may happen.
The flupsy system is electrically operated by the solar panels on the tank covers. Size and configurations are flexible and arrangeable according to the users' desire.
The floating platform is easily accessible as it is surrounded by modular floating decks, which can be arranged flexibly to connect the shore or by boat.
As people walk on modular floating decks, the load capacity is around the same as the ordinary decks.
To maximise the accessibility to the oyster reef, the walkway should align and attach to the oyster tanks in reachable distance. The oyster tanks shall be arranged in batches of dual rows in order to share the water pump of the flupsy system to maximise energy efficiency. The pulley system assists users to dig out the submerged oyster tanks instead of bending down the body to pull them out.
Depending on the user requirement, the modular floating decks and oyster reef can be further divided into simple units. Nevertheless, the current design is the simplest way to achieve the objective.
The clean seawater can also undergo further chemical processes such as purification, to provide tap water as a water source.
The duration in water can be determined by the life cycle of oysters and climatical measures.
Health & Safety
- Is it stable? Safe? ship survivability？
- Is the device safe and environmental friendly to the ocean
The installation is stable and safe as it does not carry dangerous components and the centre of gravity is very close to the sea surface so it is not easy to be flipped over by tides. The modules are surrounded by floating decks so it is safer.
Yes, as it does not pollute and damage the environment and marine life.
Materials, process, scale
- 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?
- What materials would you use? Where do you source it? Once used, where does it go?
- is it recyclable？
- How long does the project take to be complete: build, bring on site and board?
- How to mass produce the device?
The scale of the oyster tanks are determined by the size and configuration of the available floating deck modules.(500x500x400 units currently) The whole installation can be built on and off shore, same as how the floating decks are assembled. The timber frames for the set of oyster tanks can be replaced in case of deterioration over time.
The main material is wood for the timber frames of oyster tanks. It can be easily ordered from the mainland or industrial districts such as Fo Tan in Hong Kong. It can be recycled and replaced readily. Solar panels on the tank covers would have to be pre-ordered.
The timber elements are recyclable.
It is expected the project could be completed in a short period of time. The assembly of the installation can be conducted on site.
The device can be replicated easily by repeating the modular arrangements and manufacturing process.
- Where does the installation get its energy from?
- Is it sustainable and how?
It is proposed that the main energy source is from the solar panels installed on the covers of the oyster tanks.
It is environmentally sustainable as there is zero carbon emission from the renewable energy source.
- Is your installation amicable to all marine lives?
- How does it work? Especially the biology of it?
- Which other species will naturally be attracted to the oyster reef there, such as crabs, fish, mussels, algae and other species?
Yes. There are no pollutants emitted from the installation, while flupsy system is fully operated from solar energy.
Similar to the current way of breeding oysters, the oyster cages and placed in tanks which are operated by the flupsy system. Fresh seawater is pumped into the tanks periodically to feed the oysters and purify the seawater.
Any small-sized species including crabs, fish, algae etc. would be naturally to the oyster reef along the water current.
- 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.
- Will it be influenced by the weather condition?
- Does your device perform differently when in different geographic environments(for instance, near shore, in shallow water, and in distant seawater)?
It will be desirable to place this installation in Pak Nai. The bay between mainland China and Hong Kong has been used for oyster farms for a long time, proving that it is suitable for oyster breeding. The water is relatively shallow, with gentle tides from Pearl River Delta. The water quality is also suitable as it is not heavily polluted by busy traffics. The place is less dense and accessible to install this device.
The device shall not be affected by normal weathers like rain and storm, but for safety concerns, it is preferred that the device be temporarily removed during typhoons and strong tides.
It is theoretically possible to place this device anywhere in the sea, but ideally it shall be located in water with gentle tides.
- Is it cost-effective?
- Is it possible to be mass-produced?
- What is the product / outcome of this installation? Who benefits from it? What is the business model of this?
Yes, the main cost is the flupsy system and the attaching elements between the oyster tanks and the floating platform.
Yes, the oyster tanks, covers and floating platforms are easily replicated and assembled.
This installation benefits the oyster farmers the most as it provides ease of access and enhance productivity on the expandable floating platforms. The design benefits the ocean and environment as well because of the zero carbon emission from the solar energy applied on the flupsy system. The area of the platform can be the same as the current oyster rafts as well.