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Meet the Ring Garden: desalination and algae bioreactor

August 26, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Alexandru Predonu's Ring Garden is a desalination plant, rotating aeroponics farm, and algae bioreactor in one.

Alexandru Predonu’s Ring Garden is a desalination plant, rotating aeroponics farm, and algae bioreactor in one.

Tafline Laylin writes for Inhabitat.com about the elegant solution that Romanian designer Alexandru Predonu has conceived that uses solar energy to power a rotating desalination plant and farm that not only produces clean drinking water for the city of Santa Monica, but also food crops – including algae.

A finalist of this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative competition, a site-specific biennial design competition, Ring Garden is capable of churning out 16 million gallons of clean water, 40,000 pounds of aeroponic crops, and 11,000 pounds of spirulina biomass for livestock feed.

A desalination plant, rotating aeroponics farm, and algae bioreactor in one, Ring Garden is designed to “harvest seawater, CO2, and the sun’s energy to create food, biomass, and fresh water,” according to Mr. Predonu’s design brief. The plant is powered by photovoltaic panels that produce 440 MWh each year. 100 percent of that energy is used to power the desalination process and rotate the garden.

“Seawater enters the desalination plant through special screens that protect fish and local wildlife,” he said. “Solar panels power a high-pressure pump to pressurize seawater above the osmotic pressure and through a semi permeable membrane.”

Clean water resulting from this process is then divvied up – 60 percent irrigates the rotating plants, 30 percent is sent to the city grid, while the remaining brine water, which would be potentially toxic to marine life, is fed through the bioreactor to cultivate spirulina for biomass.

If built, Ring Garden would consume just nine million gallons of water annually, according to Mr. Predonu, and redirect 331 million gallons – that would otherwise evaporate – to 2,300 California households.

The winners of LAGI 2016: Santa Monica will be announced at Greenbuild in October.

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