Woods Hole gets $5.7M for seaweed mass production for biofuels and biochemicals

October 8, 2017 |

In Massachusetts, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was awarded $5.7 million for two projects that develop tools and technology to advance the mass production of seaweed for biofuels and bio-based chemicals. The funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E)’s Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources (MARINER) Program.

With $3.7 million, a team of seaweed biologists, geneticists and entrepreneurs will develop a breeding program for sugar kelp–Saccharina latissima, one of the most commercially important species–using the latest gene sequencing and genomic resources for faster, more accurate and efficient selective breeding. The breeding program will build a library of genetic resources associated with plant traits that produce a 20 to to 30 percent improvement over wild plants.

The remaining $2 million in funding will be used by a team from the Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering department to develop an autonomous underwater observation system for monitoring large-scale seaweed farms for extended periods of time without human intervention.

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