Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Improving aquaculture with zeolites

Spanish scientists have exploited the unusual traits of zeolites to cultivate larger quantities of better quality microalgae more cost efficiently.
Improving aquaculture with zeolites
Zeolites are a group of minerals containing aluminum, silicon and oxygen arranged in regular, well-defined structures. Due to their unique structural characteristics, zeolites have special chemical properties. As such, both naturally occurring and synthetic zeolites have been used widely in ion exchange, catalysis, adsorption and separation.

A research group in Southern Spain has come up with a new use for zeolites. Building on previous research on the interaction between zeolites and nitrogenous species, the group from Andalusia used zeolites to fortify fertilisers used to grow marine microalgae cultures.

Zeolites can assist in the processing of nitrogen, the primary nutrient for algae, in the seawater environment. Tests with the zeolite-enhanced fertiliser led to increases in the number of cellular microalgae and consequently overall productivity.

Due to the wide availability of zeolites and the simplicity of the process of combining them with more traditional algal fertilisers, significant cost savings can be realised.

One final benefit of the new discovery is the fact that the microalgae produced using zeolite-enhanced fertiliser have increased nutritional value. This benefit is then passed on through the food chain when the microalgae is used as feed for the aquaculture of more advanced organisms, such as shellfish and fish.

This result could benefit the aquaculture industry, both of microalgae and of larger organisms.
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