Researchers are developing textiles that could be used for large-scale seaweed farms off Europe’s coast.
Seaweed could be more commonly used as a source of chemicals and biofuel if researchers can work out how to grow it and process it efficiently.
Seaweed is normally grown on underwater ropes, but AT~SEA project researchers believe that textiles could be used to cultivate it more efficiently. They are experimenting with textures and surfaces that will produce the highest yields, and hope to grow 20 kilograms of seaweed per square metre, paving the way for large-scale sea farms in the future.
Horizon’s film crew travelled out to one of the project’s test sites off the coast of Galway, Ireland, to find out more from project coordinator Bert Groenendaal and fellow researcher Guy Buyle, from project partner Centexbel.
Thanks to rapid computing developments in the last decade and the miniaturisation of electronic components, people can, for example, track their movements and monitor their health in real time by wearing tiny computers. Researchers are now looking at how best to power these devices by turning to the user’s own body heat and working with garments, polka dots and know-how from the textile industry.
Today’s silicon solar panels are an industry standard, but these rigid, heavy blocks may be shunted aside by plastic rivals – lightweight, flexible solar panels that could be printed and stuck onto buildings or placed in windows or cars, turning light into electricity in locations inaccessible to their heavier cousins.
In three decades of diving at locations including the Red Sea and Great Barrier Reef, Gal Eyal has seen coral reefs transform in front of his eyes.
Imagine lying on a green hill watching the clouds go by on a beautiful day. The clouds you’re probably thinking of are cumulous clouds, the ones that resemble fluffy balls of cotton wool. They seem innocent enough. But they can grow into the more formidable cumulonimbus, the storm cloud. These are the monsters that produce thunder and lightning. They are powerful, destructive and intensely mysterious. They may also be getting a lot more common, which makes understanding their workings – and their effects on the human world, including how we construct buildings or power lines – more important than ever.
Researchers are harnessing the thermoelectric effect.
Scientists are studying past conditions to understand which corals migrated to deeper waters.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.