Lori Zimmer

China's Largest Algae Bloom Covers the Coast of Qingdao in Thousands of Tons of Sea Lettuce

by , 07/05/13

green design, eco design, sustainable design, QIngdao, algae bloom China, Sea lettuce china, algae Yellow Sea

The coast of Qingdao, China is usually known for its beaches – but recently the nation's largest algae bloom blanketed the shores with thousands of tons of sea lettuce. A bloom the size of Connecticut has invaded the Yellow Sea surrounding the coastal town, suffocating its waters with layer upon layer of green algae. The sea lettuce may be harmless to humans, but it poses a danger to the marine ecosystem as it spreads and eventually begins to rot, emitting hydrogen sulphide into the water.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, QIngdao, algae bloom China, Sea lettuce china, algae Yellow Sea

China has experienced algae blooms in the past, most notably in a 2008 instance that threatened the sailing events in the Beijing Olympics. Aside from creating a less than desirable place to swim, the green algae beds choke the water for local marine life and cause severe losses in the abalone, clam and sea cucumber farms that thrive on the shores. The bloom of 2008 caused over $100 million in damage to these farmers alone – not to mention the cost of cleaning up the algae across the region.

Once sea lettuce dies it decomposes and rots, emitting a foul rotten egg smell and producing large amounts of toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. Boats, helicopters and thousands of workers are required to clean up algae blooms – at a cost of $30 million or more.

Over 19,800 tons of algae has already been cleaned up from the Qingdao bloom, which is the largest ever recorded in China. Although scientists aren’t totally sure what caused the algae influx, some hypothesize that seaweed farms could contribute to the problem, as they attract fast growing algae which is dumped back into the open water.

Via Physorg

Images ©eutrophication&hypoxia

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2 Comments

  1. Grant Simpson July 9, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    H Mike and others interested, harvesting the algae requires being set up with barges and nets and or conveyors and a rotary drying drum on board. It could be done with big ramp trawlers hauling up net loads of it, some of them can pull 100tons of fish in at a time, so how about algae, in a purse seine style of netting perhaps then have a bob cat loading a conveyor on the deck that puts it on to a barge with a rotary sieve and drying drum installed along side the trawler, then it could be hauled off on other barges to be processed in to bio oil, animal feed or even fertilizer pellets. Some could be made in to bio oil on the barge to fuel the machinery and winches. It’s a risk some people have to take to set up for this the season before it occurs and it may only last a couple of months so would have to be around the clock operation to make it worth while for their investment. I know bulk Palm kernal animal feed sells for about US$250 dollars a ton here in Zealand. Surely this Ulva Prolifera Algae is worth more than that for its nutritional value? Here are some people doing Bio Oil Conversion of this algae. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ef100151h?journalCode=enfuem

  2. Mike Schroder July 6, 2013 at 11:18 am

    where are the algae harvesting companies that could be collecting this for free? Its a huge feedtock for continuous hydrous pyrolysis for oil and gas energy at the least.

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