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The Research Facility

The Masdar Institute Seawater Energy and Agricultural System (SEAS) is a pilot research facility that will evaluate a process to grow seafood and biomass for food, fuel, and byproduct production using seawater.

In broad terms the SEAS project consists of 1) an aquaculture section where shrimp and/or fish will be grown to market size, 2) a halophyte agriculture section where Salicornia Bigelovii will be cultivated using the aquaculture effluent for irrigation purposes, and 3) a mangrove agroforestry section where the excess water from the halo-agriculture section will be polished and purified, while sequestering additional carbon, before recirculating the water into the system or releasing it into the coastal environment.

The designed aquaculture section comprises six open, lined ponds with a total capacity of 1,277 m3. Water is fed into the ponds from a seawater blend tank.

The halo-agriculture section consists of eight Salicornia fields, each with a surface area of 685 m2. The Salicornia fields are equipped with perforated pipes, which drain excess irrigation water that can either be recirculated to the irrigation pump or passed on toward the mangrove swamps as continuous effluent.

The mangrove forest section consists of four artificial wetlands/swamps as well as a terminal exit water trench. Water to the swamps is sourced from the Salicornia effluent and from the drain pump station. Motorized pumps mimic tidal changes by pumping the mangrove swamps to the required level (high-tide) and then allowing it to drain under gravity (low-tide) to the tidal pump station.

Once the swamps have undergone a full tidal cycle they are allowed to gravity-drain overnight and the water is pumped to the exit water trench. The trench essentially stores all excess water that has passed through the system, but it also recirculates water back into the SEAS system by feeding into the seawater blend tank which supplies the aquaculture ponds.