While offshore structures are traditionally constructed in steel, more companies are exploring the benefits aluminium has to offer, most recently the fish farming industry.
Recognizing this important sector, which is set to grow dramatically over the next few years - the Norwegian government has set a goal to increase fish production from one million to five million tonnes by 2050 - Hydro is now exploring new market opportunities at sea.
“Aluminium is well suited for application in the offshore industry. It does not rust, requires little maintenance and weighs only a third of steel. As the offshore farming industry is growing, we believe more and more will discover the advantages of exploring what aluminium can offer,” says Marijn Rietveld, Hydro’s Market Director of Marine & Offshore.
With Ecomerden, a Norwegian offshore aquaculture company, Hydro has developed a new concept for closed fish farming as the first large project for this market.
While the floating ring around the fish net is normally made of steel, the two companies have now found a way of producing the outer ring in aluminium. Utilizing the qualities of the material, the aluminum ring will dramatically increase the efficiency and usability of the closed system, as well as making impressive cost savings.
It eliminates water-polluting maintenance and saves the significant cost of surface treatment maintenance. The ring will be supplied by Hydro’s plant in Finspång, Sweden.
As offshore fish farms are in deeper waters and typically 20 to 30 miles from the shore, they have more space for expansion to meet the increasing demand for fish worldwide.
Simultaneously, stronger structures and cages are needed to withstand stronger currents and storms, while also dealing with the logistics of working many miles from land. This means higher equipment and supply costs – and as the industry grows, there is considerable pressure to make savings.
Jan-Erik Kyrkjebø, General Manager of Ecomerden, is excited about the new solution. “Working with Hydro on developing this concept, we both had the same goal – to improve productivity and welfare standards in offshore fish farms, while controlling costs. It turns out aluminium is the ideal material to meet our needs, as a high-performing and cost-effective option, creating new opportunities for growth,” says Kyrkjebø.
Hydro’s commercial and engineering teams have been investigating the fish farming market for some time to understand how to best use aluminium in these floating structures.
“We are working hard to increase the competence level in the industry about the benefits of using aluminium offshore. As Norway is a world leader in aluminium production, and a major player in the areas of oil and gas, ship-building and fish farming, there is literally a sea of opportunities for the use of aluminium offshore. We see that by working closely together with our customers, such as Ecomerden, and uniting our expertise we can achieve a lot in this market going forward,” says Marijn Rietveld.