Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biofuels from the sea: Seaweed may prove a viable future biofuel, especially if harvested in summer

Date:
July 4, 2011
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
The use of kelp as a biofuel could provide an important alternative to terrestrial grown biofuels; however the suitability of its chemical composition varies on a seasonal basis. Harvesting the kelp in July when carbohydrate levels are at their highest would ensure optimal sugar release for biofuel production.

Kelp (Laminaria digitata) forests off the coast of Wales have been shown to provide a viable biofuel especially if harvested in summer.
Credit: Dr. Jessica Adams

Seaweed may prove a viable future biofuel -- especially if harvested in summer. The use of kelp (Laminaria digitata) could provide an important alternative to terrestrial grown biofuels; however the suitability of its chemical composition varies on a seasonal basis. Harvesting the kelp in July when carbohydrate levels are at their highest would ensure optimal sugar release for biofuel production.

Related Articles


"The storage carbohydrate and soluble sugars get converted into ethanol in the fermentation process, so we need as much as possible," explains Dr. Jessica Adams, a lead researcher at Aberystwyth University. "Metals can inhibit the yeast too so we also want these to be as low as possible."

Collecting monthly samples of kelp from the Welsh coast researchers used chemical analysis to assess the seasonal variability. Their results, which will be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on the 4th of July, showed that the best month for biofuel harvest was in July when the kelp contained the highest proportions of carbohydrate and the lowest metal content.

Kelp can be converted to biofuels in different ways including fermentation or anaerobic digestion producing ethanol and methane or pyrolysis, (a method of heating the fuel without oxygen) which produces bio-oil. The chemical composition of the seaweed is important to both of these processes.

Research into biofuels has focused on terrestrial plants; however these have the serious drawback of the conflict between using land to grow food or fuel. Marine ecosystems are an untapped resource that account for over 50% of global biomass and seaweeds themselves are capable of producing more biomass per square metre than fast growing terrestrial plants such as sugar cane.

"Seaweed biofuel could be very important in future energy production," says Dr. Adams. "What biofuels provide that other renewables such as wind power cannot is a storable energy source that we can use when the wind drops." Future work will improve the viability of the process by identifying and extracting high value substances, such as pigments and phenols, before the rest of the seaweed is used to produce biofuel.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Experimental Biology. "Biofuels from the sea: Seaweed may prove a viable future biofuel, especially if harvested in summer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110703222931.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2011, July 4). Biofuels from the sea: Seaweed may prove a viable future biofuel, especially if harvested in summer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110703222931.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "Biofuels from the sea: Seaweed may prove a viable future biofuel, especially if harvested in summer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110703222931.htm (accessed December 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Trees And Bugs Are Seemingly Symbiotic

Christmas Trees And Bugs Are Seemingly Symbiotic

Newsy (Dec. 24, 2014) — The National Christmas Tree Association says bugs in trees are a relatively small problem, but recommends giving your tree a good shake anyway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ukrainian Coal Miners Work to Stave Off Electricity Shortage

Ukrainian Coal Miners Work to Stave Off Electricity Shortage

AFP (Dec. 24, 2014) — Coal miners in the separatist east of Ukraine work to ensure there won't be electricity shortages during the coldest months of winter, but the country has declared a state of emergency in its electricity market. Duration: 00:59 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uruguay Chooses 'smart' Farming Methods for Ambitious Goals

Uruguay Chooses 'smart' Farming Methods for Ambitious Goals

AFP (Dec. 24, 2014) — Using GM crops, genetically chosen cows, and technology like satellites and drones, Uruguay - with a population of just 3 million people - is aiming to produce enough food to feed 50 million. Duration: 03:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Now Third Most Populated State

Florida Now Third Most Populated State

Buzz60 (Dec. 24, 2014) — The US Census Bureau is saying that Florida has recently taken over New York for the third most populated state in the union mark. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins