Norwegians looking at marine tunicates as ethanol feedstock

June 25, 2013 |

In Norway, researchers at the University of Bergen and Uni Research are exploring tunicates (ciona intestinalis), a common marine species that consumes microorganisms and can be converted into much-needed feed for salmon or a combustible biofuel for filling petrol tanks. And it can be cultivated in vast amounts: 200 kg per square meter of ocean surface area.

Tunicates are basically living filter tubes that suck bacteria and other microorganisms into one end and excrete purified water out the other end. This is how tunicates feed — at the very bottom of the food chain and without competing directly with fish or other marine animals higher up in the chain. At the same time tunicates clean the fjords and coastal areas.

The fact that tunicates are also the only animals that produce cellulose — and that they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids — makes them a potential alternative for bioethanol and as a feed ingredient for farmed fish.

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Category: Research

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