CHEK Upside: Camosun students create award-winning kelp seed launcher

CHEK Upside: Camosun students create award-winning kelp seed launcher

While it might look like some sort of trebuchet, this student project is far from it.

Sidney’s Cascadia Seaweed is a leader in the kelp growing and harvesting industry, with seaweed farms in several inlets off of Vancouver Island.

“Our seaweed is grown on a horizontal grid that’s suspended in the ocean with 2 to 300 metre long lines of rope,” says Cascadia’s aquaculture systems engineer Dan Pedde.

“So in order to plant our seed we end up wrapping this seeded twine around the ropes.”

So when Cascadia was in search of a more efficient seeding method they turned to their partnership with Camosun College and the students in the mechanical engineering program.

“We first heard about it at the beginning of May when we were starting our term and this is actually one of the most sought after projects,” says group member Anika Andersen.

“It took a long time, it took a lot of experimenting and we spent a lot of time in front of the white board just drawing rudimentary pictures of all of the different concepts that we ended up trying out,” says fellow group member Marshel Glidden.

After solidifying a final design it was time to bring their idea to life.

“It was a little bit terrifying at first because we really didn’t know how it’s going to be in real life when we get our hands on all the machines,” says group member Huu Duong Nguyen.

“But once we got our feet into the room everything became natural,” adds Nguyen.

What they came up with was the Kelp Seed Launcher V2.0, which harnesses the forward movement of the boat it is on to spin a mechanism used to combine the seed with the lines of rope.

“We’ve basically reduced their seeding time from about 15 minutes to five minutes,” says group member Justin Tomlinson.

“So we’re going to be able to help them grow a tone more kelp, which is going to really improve our local ecosystem,” adds Tomlinson.

The design not only won over the minds of Cascadia Seaweed, but a panel of industry judges assembled by Camosun as well.

“We talked to a tech defense panel of engineers from around the industry and they unanimously decided that our group had the most innovative design so that was a really proud moment for all of us,” says Anderson.

The project is set for on-water testing in the coming weeks.


Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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