Sian Sliwinska

Year 2 MArch

The Bloom Buoy Network 

Algae Brew Laboratories

Ross-on-Wye, UK

This project aims to address the issue of extreme algae growth resulting from higher temperatures and agricultural run-off. It seeks to explore the beneficial properties of algae while advocating for legislative reforms. While algae is essential for aquatic life, uncontrolled growth leads to harmful algae blooms with severe ecological and economic consequences. The excessive nutrients present in agricultural run-off further exacerbate the frequency and severity of these blooms.

The project focuses on the River Wye, a vital river of scientific interest and outstanding beauty, which has been identified by concerned local communities as suffering from pollution and excessive algae growth. Immediate intervention is necessary to prevent irreversible damage. Therefore, an existing pub in Ross-on-Wye serves as the location for a network prototype, with plans for expansion across the UK to address water pollution. The project combines elements of a pub and laboratory, creating a hybrid space that allows the public and scientists to engage in hands-on experiences involving the collection and utilization of algae through scientific exploration and brewing.

By deploying a network of socially driven smart buoys, the project gathers algae and returns it to the pub. The algae can be used in the production of algae beer or circulated among photobioreactor panels in the pub garden, where it continues to grow. The pub and laboratory have dual seasonality due to the climatic conditions required for algae growth, with full activation between April and September, fostering engagement with the algae. From October to March, the site transitions into an education and research facility, preparing for the next bloom season while also advocating for legislative change. Ultimately, the project aims to significantly reduce agricultural run-off and nitrate levels in the surrounding waters. Once this goal is achieved, the buoy network will be decommissioned and relocated to another at-risk location, continuing its efforts to address water pollution.

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