Rosie.Schmedding at csiro.au Rosie.Schmedding at csiro.au
Mon Mar 24 16:26:49 EST 2003

25 March, 2003 Ref 03/53


Australians may soon be eating bigger, juicier, meatier oysters thanks to a new smart oyster tray for oyster farmers.

The new taste experience for seafood lovers has been made possible by a specially designed smart polymer that stops the growth of organisms that interfere with the food supply needed by growing oysters.

The smart oyster tray was designed by a team of research scientists from both CSIRO and Australia's Co-Operative Research Centre for Aquaculture (CRC).

Dr Veronica Cross of CSIRO Novels Materials & Processes says, 'The Smart Oyster Tray means higher-grade, meatier oysters, because the young growing oyster is not obstructed from the free flow of nutrient-rich seawater it feeds on.

'The Smart Oyster Tray also means less work for oyster farmers, who for years have fought off the seaweed and algae growth that has crowded the long-lines and trays suspended from rafts in "off-the-bottom" oyster farming.

'Fouling is often removed at harvest by hand, by low or high-pressure hoses, or by dipping "young" stock in a solution that kills unwanted organisms (these can include algal bloom, barnacles, tubeworms and sponges).

'All very laborious tasks that are now no longer necessary', says Dr Cross. 

The new Smart Oyster Tray comes in the form of a traditionally shaped oyster tray, manufactured with specially designed polymers (plastics) that contain slow-release, harmless biodegradable antifouling chemicals.

Dr Cross says, 'The Smart Oyster Tray is a high-density polyethylene, which contains an environmentally benign antifouling chemical agent within the plastic's molecular structure, which is slowly released over time. 

'The antifouling chemical agent is an environmentally safe organic compound as it degrades in seawater in a matter of hours.'

The development of this material required the identification and selection of a new antifouling polymer suitable for injection moulding and compatible with the antifouling agent. 

The antifouling agent and high-density polyethylene was pre-compounded and processed into trays using standard industrial injection moulders.

'This simple system prevents the attachment of algal blooms and other fouling organisms to the surface of the polymer', says Dr Cross. 

'We have successfully fabricated the material into oyster trays on a commercial scale.'

This product can be used for the culture of edible oysters, pearl oysters, abalone and prawns. 

Applications for the CSIRO Smart Oyster Tray are likely to extend to other shellfish farming, nets used in aquaculture and underwater farming infrastructure.

Dr Cross says that CSIRO is currently interested in discussing the development of its technology for commercial use with parties with an interest in the manufacture and marketing of aquaculture products.

The Smart Oyster Tray is one of the technologies CSIRO is featuring at the Commercialisation Forum & Fair of Ideas in Sydney, March 26-28, Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour. 

More information about the Fair is available at: www.kca.asn.au <http://www.kca.asn.au>

More information: 

Dr Veronica Cross

Industry Manager, CSIRO Novel Materials & Processes 03 9545 2978 

Email: Veronica.Cross at csiro.au <mailto:Veronica.Cross at csiro.au>

Ken Anderson 03 9545 2052

Manager Marketing Communication 0414 457 214

CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology

Email: Ken.Anderson at csiro.au

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