Hydro and Ecomerden develop new aluminium solution for closed offshore fish farming
While offshore structures are traditionally constructed in steel, more companies are exploring the benefits aluminium has to offer, most recently the fish farming industry. Recognising this important sector, which is set to grow dramatically over the next few years, the Norwegian Government has set a goal to increase fish production from 1M to 5M tonnes by 2050. Hydro is now exploring new market opportunities at sea.
“Aluminium is well suited for applications in the offshore industry. It does not rust, requires little maintenance and weighs only a third of steel. As the offshore farming industry is growing, we believe more and more will discover the advantages of exploring what aluminium can offer,” said Hydro’s market director of marine and offshore Marijn Rietveld.
Together with Ecomerden, a Norwegian offshore aquaculture company, Hydro has developed a new concept for closed fish farming as the first large project for this market. While the floating ring around the fish net is normally made of steel, the two companies have now found a way of producing the outer ring in aluminium. Utilising the qualities of the material, the aluminum ring will dramatically increase the efficiency and usability of the closed system, as well as making impressive cost savings. It eliminates water-polluting maintenance and saves the significant cost of surface treatment maintenance. The ring will be supplied by Hydro’s plant in Finspång, Sweden.
As offshore fish farms are in deeper waters and typically 20 to 30 miles from the shore, they have more space for expansion to meet the increasing demand for fish worldwide. Simultaneously, stronger structures and cages are needed to withstand stronger currents and storms, while also dealing with the logistics of working many miles from land. This means higher equipment and supply costs – and as the industry grows, there is considerable pressure to make savings.
Ecomerden general manager Jan-Erik Kyrkjebø is excited about the new solution. “Working with Hydro on developing this concept, we both had the same goal – to improve productivity and welfare standards in offshore fish farms, while controlling costs. It turns out aluminium is the ideal material to meet our needs, as a high-performing and cost-effective option, creating new opportunities for growth,” said Mr Kyrkjebø.
Hydro’s commercial and engineering teams have for some time been investigating the fish farming market to understand how to best use aluminium in these floating structures.
“We are working hard to increase the competence level in the industry about the benefits of using aluminium offshore. As Norway is a world leader in aluminium production, and a major player in the areas of oil and gas, shipbuilding and fish farming, there is literally a sea of opportunities for the use of aluminium offshore. We see that by working closely together with our customers, such as Ecomerden, and uniting our expertise we can achieve a lot in this market going forward,” said Mr Rietveld.