The main objectives of the project was: “the demonstration of a cost-effective wave-powered device, entitled the “Wave Energized Baltic Aeration Pump (WEBAP)” that mitigates the problem of oxygen depletion (“hypoxia”) in coastal zones and open seas.”.
The project beneficiaries conclude that this objective has been achieved by the project activities. The project has moreover developed and demonstrated a cost-effective electrically-powered aeration pump for the use in marine environments without enough wave energy accessible. Further, the project substantially improved the knowledge about the current situation in the Baltic Sea regarding hypoxia and the phosphorous dynamics.
Recalling the expected results as stated in the project description, it can be said that these expected results remain after the successful demonstration of the WEBAP-concept. The WEBAP-system will significantly improve the situation in marine environments suffering from hypoxic conditions. The implementation of oxygen pumps is expected to lead to enhanced ventilation/mixing of hypoxic bottom water layers with the following primary quantitative environmental results (compared to present situation):
- Increased oxygen levels in hypoxic deep-water layers to at least 2 mg/l
- Significantly decreased phosphorus concentrations in the bottom water due to a decrease in the phosphorus leakage from bottom sediment by 50% in anoxic waters and eventually phosphorus binding when more aerobic conditions occur.
Further, secondary effects will be:
- Recovery of benthic animals and deep-water living fish.
- Less algal bloom during summer months.
- Improved water quality and increased catches of high quality fish.
- Restoration of natural marine ecosystems, including natural habitats.
- Halting the loss of biodiversity.
A full-scale implementation of the technology would be possible in many of the more than 400 hypoxic marine environments worldwide. For the Baltic region the implementation would provide a significant improvement of the environmental state of the Baltic Sea. A full-scale implementation of the WEBAP-system and the transfer to other areas worldwide can lead to economic growth and increase Europe's competitiveness in this field on the world market.
The WEBAP-project has succeeded with it planned activities. Moreover, the project did not only demonstrate the initial solution of a wave-powered oxygen pump but it also brought up an alternative technical solution for applications in areas where the wave conditions do not allow for wave-powered oxygenation. Further, activities initiated by the WEBAP-project created further enhancements of the original approach and even new technologies that broaden the field of implementation of artificial oxygenation of oxygen-depleted marine environments.
The WEBAP-project as also identified some of the relevant failure factors of which one is the need for a successful integration and acceptance of oxygenation activities with other interests of marine environments such as fishery, transport, recreation etc. Also technical constraints or hinder have been brought up. The further development of technical details in a full-scale application can be named as one.
The intention of this demonstration project has not only been to demonstrate a sound technical solution for an environmental problem, but it also intended to create enough information to implement that solution in a full-scale basis. This includes the availability of knowledge for the construction of oxygen pumps that are realistic and economic feasibility, and that also understand all limiting factors. The project prepared for a commercial application that is available for society as a method to mitigate oxygen depleted bottom waters.