Minister opens Nofima's recirculation research center

Center will contribute to increased knowledge about fish nutrition, physiology, health and welfare in the most important farmed species in recirculating aquaculture systems
December 9, 2010

Minister opens Nofima's recirculation research center

“The focus here at Nofima’s research centre is on research and sustainability for the future,” said Fisheries and Coastal Affairs Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen on November 23 as she opened the advanced research centre for recirculation of water in aquaculture at Sunndalsøra.

“This is a big and important day for the aquaculture industry in Norway,” said Nofima CEO Øyvind Fylling-Jensen. “The fact that Nofima is now starting to use an advanced and modern research centre in recirculation gives the industry yet another tool in their work to develop sustainable and future-looking solutions for aquaculture in the future.”

During her opening speech Berg-Hansen stressed the importance of such projects for Norway: “We need to steadily make improvements and innovations. We must work smarter and it’s precisely this that Nofima is doing when establishing such a research centre.”

Bendik Fyhn Terjesen, Senior Scientist and project manager at Nofima, has been waiting for this day: “The time was overdue to establish this centre. Recirculation looks like it will be implemented in the industry in the near future and we believe the focus must be on the fish and that the development must be knowledge-based.”

He believes recirculation can give better sustainability in “environmentally controlled aquaculture”, a term he introduced during the opening ceremony to reinforce that we must have full control of the water quality and nutrition. In that way we can truly exploit the full potential in the fish on its own terms.

Recirculation offers many advantages. In Nofima’s plant, 99 % of the water is recycled, meaning extremely good control of the water environment and sensible utilisation of water resources. The fact that the plant is closed provides the fish with better protection against infection.

Fish farmed using RAS technology appear to be more robust when they are transferred to sea cages, as well as having more predictable survival and growth rates. It will be important to test this hypothesis systematically and find the direct causes for the results.

This research centre uses waste heat from Sunndal Energi and Hydro Aluminium Sunndal to heat the water, building and air.

Nofima is also studying how nutrients in the water can be recycled and used in other contexts, such as soil improvement. Nofima scientists recently published a report on this important field.

“You will have enough to do at this research centre,” say Klemet Steen from Lerøy Seafood Group and Ole Kristian Wilmann from Marine Harvest, both of whom have operational responsibility for RAS plants.

“There is a lot we have experienced that functions better using RAS technology instead of flow-through technology, but know little about the reasons,” says Steen. “There is a need to clarify certain threshold values. For instance we know little about how much waste feed the biofilters can endure.”

The centre is built to be flexible with the possibility to easily replace technology to enable research on future RAS-related challenges. Wilmann welcomes research that can clarify the potential of the various recirculation systems.

“We are also interested in cost-effective and rational methods for the regulation of water parameters in the process from roe to smoltified salmon,” says Wilmann.

Nofima is already well underway with research at the centre, and the industry has reason to expect useful results.

Several have stood side by side Nofima to build the recirculation centre. “Without Sunndal Municipal Council, Møre og Romsdal County Council and Sunndal Næringsselskap, the research centre at Sunndalsøra would not have been a reality,” says Fylling-Jensen. “We would also like to express sincere thanks to Sunndal Energi and Enova for supply of waste heat and to the contractors, consultants, suppliers and research partners who have been involved.”

About the recirculation center

•The main objective for the centre is to contribute to increased knowledge about fish nutrition, physiology, health and welfare in the most important farmed species in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).
•Environmental control improves Nofima’s tools in other areas such as classical nutrition.
•Is the only research facility for recirculation on a commercial scale (1750 m2)
•Is unique in a European context
•Suited for testing of equipment, methods and operational routines in collaboration with the industry
•The centre can utilise both freshwater and seawater and has both recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) and flow-through tanks.
•The centre currently has four completely separate recirculating systems. Each of these contains side and centre outlets in the tanks, particle collectors at tank level, ozone treatment, micro sieves, moving bed biofilters/bioreactors each with three chambers, counter-current CO2 degassers, pump sump and oxygen contactors.