Seining Seaweed? Alaska’s Biofuel Future.

I have thought about the concepet many times.  The seine net is a magnet for kelp.  I could easily envision tender boats processing this kelp on board and delivering it to the fleet.  Fuel costs have skyrocketed in the past five years and this could be a viable alternative to the high costs of diesel.  I would gladly sign up to go seining for kelp.

ScienceDaily (July 3, 2011) — 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.

“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.

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

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