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.
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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