“The At~Sea project was officially kicked off with a two-day meeting on April4-5. It took place at the premises of coordinator Sioen (Ardooie, Belgium). It was an excellent meeting with inspiring overviews, good discussions, critical thoughts and interesting ideas.”

Advanced Textiles for open SEA biomass cultivation (AT~SEA, 2012 - 2015)

AT~SEA is a 3-year European project within FP7 (NMP work programme).
The project aims at the development of advanced technical textiles in order to demonstrate the technical and
economical feasibility of open sea cultivation of macroalgae (seaweed).
The project targets the development of novel textile materials for 3 different elements of the aquatic biomass
cultivation farms:
•    Advanced 3D multilayer textile substrates for seaweed cultivation
•    Advanced textile based cables and connections for positioning and anchoring of the 3D multilayer
     textile substrate
•    Advanced coated textiles for flexible and light-weight floatation tubes, as well as for storage and
     transportation tanks
By reaching these goals, AT~SEA targets at the development of innovative offshore textile products. Further,
it wants to stimulate bio-energy production from seaweed by enabling open sea large scale cultivation and
harvesting.
The choice for macroalgae based aquatic biomass cultivation in AT~SEA is based on the following reasoning:
1) 70% of the earth’s surface is ocean, thus there is a huge potential for biomass growth,
2) macroalgae grow much faster than conventional crops on land,
3) by producing the biomass at sea we avoid the discussions about land food crops being used as fuel/energy
source. This is the so-called food-energy nexus.
It is an important challenge as today the total worldwide energy consumption is ca. 480 exajoules (EJ, 480 × 1018 J).
Approximately 90% is derived from the combustion of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, i.e. coal, oil and natural gas, are
limited in supply and will one day be depleted. As a result the quest for renewable energies started decades ago.
These are energies generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides, etc. but also from industrial or
urban waste and biomass. Induced by numerous studies and energy conferences, the 27 member states of the EU
decided in 2007 that 20% of our energy should come from renewable sources by 2020 (Lisbon Treaty). Biomass energy,
being the oldest source of renewable energy, is generally acknowledged as one of the most promising. The technology
is based on converting biomass material (plants and animal waste) into energy (i.e. heat, electricity and/or chemicals,
like methane gas, butanol, etc.).
The project consortium is well-balanced and consists of 11 partners from 7 European countries (5 SME’s, 4 RTD’s
and 2 LE’s). In order to facilitate a successful project, the consortium covers a broad range of required competences,
i.e. textiles, biology and biotechnology, offshore engineering, and renewable energy. Since the focus is on the
development of textiles, 6 out of 11 partners stem from the textile sector.

“The At~Sea project has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)
under grant agreement n° 280860.”