UK researchers develop cheap way to produce biofuel from Sargassum seaweed

May 12, 2020 |

In the UK, researchers have developed a cheap and simple way of creating biofuel and fertilizer from seaweed, whilst removing plastic from the oceans and cleaning up tourist beaches in the Caribbean and Central America.

Partly fueled by fertilizers washing into the sea from farming in the Americas, the foul-smelling Sargassum seaweed devastates the tourism industry and harms fisheries and ocean ecosystems.

A research team, led by the University of Exeter and the University of Bath, has developed a cheap and simple way to pre-process seaweed before making bulk chemicals and biofuels from it.

Using acidic and basic catalysts, the team devised a process that releases sugars that can be used to feed a yeast that produces a palm oil substitute. The same method also prepares the residual seaweed for the next stage of processing, called hydrothermal liquefaction.

This process subjects the organic material to high temperature and pressure, turning the seaweed into bio-oil that can be processed further into fuels, and high-quality, low-cost fertilizer.

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Category: Research

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