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Europe Hopes Algae Biofuel Grown in Seawater will Reduce Coal Consumption

By Joao Peixe | Sun, 10 February 2013 00:00 | 2

In Europe’s quest for alternative energy sources to reduce its ever growing consumption of coal, a new EU research consortium, known as AccliPhot, has been created. Based at the University of Aberdeen it is researching the potential of using seawater as a source of biofuel.

The basic concept is not a new one. Sweater will be used to grow microalgae, which can then be converted into algae biofuel.

Traditional algae farming is highly water intensive meaning that water scarcity quickly becomes a problem. Using seawater clearly avoids this problem as it can be found in any coastal region in abundance.

Related article: Marginal Lands: Unfit for Food Crops, but Perfect for Biofuel Plants

The US has also spent time researching growing algae using seawater, and the California-based Aurora Biofuels has developed a large demonstration of growing algae in open saltwater ponds in Australia. Unfortunately this technique shifts the problem of water scarcity to one of land use issues as vast open ponds must be dug to grow the algae.

AccliPhot hopes to avoid this problem by cultivating the algae in bioreactors which resemble large vats and can be situated in any derelict industrial properties or unused land space.

Dr. Oliver Ebenhoeh, one of the researchers at the University of Aberdeen, stated that this new technique was generated due to the “need to find efficient ways of supplying our energy demand in a way that doesn’t compete for valuable resources like arable land or fresh water…Cultivating algae using water that can’t be used for irrigation, like salt water or brackish water, makes sense because it’s so vast – it’s all around us and there’s no competition to use the land to grow other things.”

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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  • MR. SANJEEV SULE on March 22 2014 said:
    i wholeheartedly agree with you that salty, brackish, marine water or whatever you name it,should be used to produce algae as a bio fuel.Unlike fresh water it is abundant.The land around the salt water is not arable and does not suit agriculture.In fact in India one can see miles and miles of salt panes along its vast barren seacoast. Algae can not only produce fuel but it can be used as cattle feed to feed millions of hungry cattle. Salt water algae can prove to be a boon to the gas guzzling economy of India.
  • Paul Brunato on February 11 2013 said:
    It is great to see ongoing research into alternative energy sources. Please note that Aurora Biofuels changed its name to Aurora Algae 2010. The company’s outdoor algae cultivation leverages arid land and seawater, so it does not compete for arable land or fresh water.

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