SEALEAF is a modular hydroponic floating agricultural system for urban coastal environments that challenges land-use systems and a culture of global food importation by returning food production to the center of its consumption. By 2015, a projected 340 million people will reside in the world's 21 megacities, of which 18 are coastal. Feeding these cities against a backdrop of explosive population growth, urbanization, rising sea levels, desertification, and demand for abundance will become a challenge beyond our existing infrastructure. However, we at SEALEAF believe that while our working urban space decreases and prices can only increase, there is still 'land' available. This land surrounds our cities, is largely underutilized, cheap, and actually increasing.
A case study for Singapore has shown that waterborne agriculture has a clear advantage over its land grown competition.
Create real mass agriculture inside greater urban areas rendering the concept of local food for a local population, at a reasonable price, a reality.
Eliminate carbon miles incurred from mass importation of everyday produce.
Contribute to nations' food security through the creation of a local agricultural industry within its consumption centers.
SEALEAF enables urban farmers to cultivate crops that would otherwise be grown on commercially valuable land, on water. The design is based on a floating agricultural platform that consists of an enclosed hydroponic farming module. It also features a walkway that enables farmers to access their crops.
In addition to providing a floating platform for crops to grow, each module collects its own rainwater. They are also equipped 1W solar panels that drive root aeration. This makes SEALEAF a low-maintenance solution, which is a minor benefit in the scheme of things: imagine how much good will be done for climate change if cities no longer need planes, ships and trucks to bring them fresh produce?
After intensive research, several iterations of functional prototypes, and case studies for coastal cities to develop the business case, we developed the final product based on industry standards. It can be docked to existing fish farms and allows harvesting up to 10 times per year.
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I was involved throughout the entire project, starting from desk research to building and commercialising the final product.
Nevertheless, I was mainly responsible for the concept and technical development. Due to the high complexity and dependencies between the overall concept, technical feasibility, and economic efficiency, I developed several hydroponic and floating unit prototypes. I then incorporated the knowledge gained from these prototypes into a final product design.