Is Seaweed the Future of Biofuel?
As the global demand for biofuel grows, concerns are being raised about the use of valuable crop land for growing biomass. Land competition with biofuel crops is seen by many as being a driver for increasing food prices, and still others point to the relatively low energy ROI as compared to fossil fuels. There is hope on the horizon, or on the coast, at least.
Prof. Avigdor Abelson of Tel Aviv University‘s Department of Zoology and the new Renewable Energy Center and other researchers from Israel are looking at common seaweed to address both the issue of a sustainable biofuel crop and coastal environmental degradation caused by agricultural runoff.
Encouraging the growth of seaweed for eventual conversion into biofuel could solve these environmental problems. The system that the researchers are developing, called the “Combined Aquaculture Multi-Use Systems” (CAMUS), takes into account the realities of the marine environment and human activity in it. Ultimately, all of these factors function together to create a synthetic “man-made ecosystem,” explains Prof. Abelson.
Man-made fish feeders, which produce pollution in the form of excess nutrients and are generally considered harmful to the marine environment, would become a positive link in this chain. Used alongside an increased population of filter feeders such as oysters, which suck in extra particles and convert them food that the microalgae can consume, this “pollution” could be used to sustain a much greater yield of seaweed, which is needed for seaweed to become a sustainable source of fuel.
Is Seaweed the Future of Biofuel? via ScienceBlog