Ocean Renewable Energy: the next frontier?

September 21, 2012 |

Christopher D. Barry and Paul Kamen of the Ocean Renewable Energy Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers have scribed a fascinating, 26-page “Overview of Ocean Renewable Energy,” which includes a look at the potential for marine biofuels.

The authors write, ” One of the more exotic possibilities for ocean based energy is marine biofuels. In a sense this is hardly new – whale oil was the first high grade hydrocarbon and the petroleum industry can be credited with saving whales from extinction. Even now, oil from processed fish is burned aboard catcher processors to provide energy for processing. However, the most promising marine biofuel is giant kelp (Macrocytis ), which can provide the same sort of cellulosic feedstock as agricultural waste and grasses.

“If efforts to develop cellulosic biofuels – “grassoline” – bear fruit, it might be worth considering kelp as a feed stock. The “Ocean Food and Energy Farm Project”, also during the Carter administration (Wilson, 1977) proposed that kelp is principally limited by anchoring opportunities, so submerged semi-floating frames are all that is required to generate 200-400 tons of material per acre/year, with a potential of 200-400 MBtu per acre/year.”

A copy of the overview can be downloaded here.

We also looked at the topic recently in the Digest in “Aquadudes: 15 saltwater-based energy technologies here to save the day.”

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