Aquaponics for HKUST

What is this project?

This project aims to demonstrate an aquaponic farm yielding fishes and vegetables with the least consumption of resources. The project also hopes to demonstrate that green business is profitable and can promote environmental awareness, thus demonstrate a workable aquaponic farm to be implanted in an orphanage in Cambodia to help their community to be more self-sustained.

What is the problem this project is trying to address?

Food production is one of the major energy expenses today. Many do not appreciate the energy spent during the production, and they are wasting food resources. Even though there are groundbreaking technologies that suggest a greener way to run the food business, people are skeptical of green businesses because of their profit generation. Regarding this issue, installing an aquaponic farm will not only create technological breakthrough but also serve as an educational medium to students.

Aquaponic farm consists of three major components: fishes, vegetables, and bacteria, with water running through each component in a closed circulation that is self-sustained through making use of ecological roles of fish, vegetables, and bacteria. This farm system minimizes the environmental waste generated in every process, thus serves as the platform for future technological testing for scientific researches on campus. On top of this, students will get to earn a perfect educational opportunity to understand the difficulty and complexity of modern farming and the global pressure of abundant food supply, as well as learn the idea of green lifestyle and environmental responsibility.

How does this project support our sustainable smart campus as a living lab vision?

This project explores a sustainable way to: 1) recycle and treat water used to irrigate vegetables for raising fishes and 2) replace costly and environmental-harmful artificial fertilizer by naturally converted nitrate fueled by fish faces. A smart sensing and adjustment system will be developed to control the aquaponic farm to reduce the energy consumption and ensure the water qualities suitable for fishes and vegetables. Installation of sustainable farming system with a less-known, intelligent technology will spur the campus to become a living lab.

What’s next?

The project team has already installed and has been working on the aquaponic farm in campus. Team members are currently trying to grow different type of vegetables in the aquaponic farm while optimizing the system with lower energy consumption, and ultimately figure out a profitable business model. Later, the team will apply this business to the Wat Opot Children’s Community located in Cambodia, while extending the usage of current site and make it serve for university as long as possible even after their site usage deadline on June 1st, 2020.