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Airlift Pumps for Food Applications

Aquaculture production is an industry of growing importance in the world. Global aquaculture production attained an all-time high of 90 million tonnes in 2012 (US$144 billion), including about 67 million tonnes of food fish and 24 million tonnes of aquatic algae (FAO, 2014). Challenges associated with high production cost, slim profit margins, diseases, the high cost of energy, limited water resources and the high degree of scrutiny in certain regions about the potential negative environmental impacts of aquaculture operations and the quality of aquaculture products make it imperative for aquaculture operations worldwide to adopt sustainable and economically viable practices and technologies.

Water quality is the most important factor affecting fish performance and health in aquaculture. Temperature, dissolved oxygen, solid (fecal) and dissolved wastes (ammonia, carbon dioxide) and contaminants (pathogens, pollutants, hydrogen disulfide, etc.) are key water quality parameters for aquaculture operations. There is an urgent need for robust, versatile, flexible, energy efficient and cost-effective water quality management technology for aquaculture operations. This novel airlift pump technology offers the advantages of that offer the advantage of being simple and yet enable high flow rates, high head and high efficiency with lower capital, operation and maintenance costs and noise and vibration pollution compared to the centrifugal pumps commonly used by aquaculture operations.

The prototype of air lift pump was designed and several copies of this prototype manufactured and tested in a recirculating aquatic system at the Fish Nutrition Research Laboratory at the University of Guelph. The air lift pump prototypes proved to be very effective in replacing the centrifugal pumps used to operate the recirculating aquatic system in that facility. This prototype also resulted in substantial reduction in total energy use (approximately 50-70% in energy savings) and lower operating noise and vibration compared to the centrifugal pumps commonly used. (US patents 8721297 B1 and 8596989 B2).