Monday, January 23, 2012

Company claims it can turn seaweed into viable feedstock for fuel and other chemicals

    Good Day Humboldt County! 

We can now consider a new path for securing future fuel … seaweed. The whole idea seems murky to me, but who am I to question progress?

The following article reflects the energy scramble in this county, as scientists seek alternatives to fossil fuels. I guess there would be no shortage of seaweed, but securing the slimy stuff would involve  underwater farming. How expensive would that be? Is this just another pie-in-the-sky solution that’ll never be viable? I’m not sure, but I invite you to read the following:

A group of scientists has gone offshore in an effort to bypass the food-versus-fuel debate. Startup Bio Architecture Lab today published a paper in Science it claims will turn seaweed into a viable feedstock for fuel and other chemicals.

Making fuel and chemicals from crops such as corn and sugar cane requires significant quantities of land and fresh water, creating competition for resources with agriculture. Macroalgae such as seaweed, by contrast, grow in salt water and are relatively productive energy sources because they are 60 percent carbohydrates and don't contain lignin, which binds up useful molecules in many earthbound plants.

In their paper, scientists at Bio Architecture Lab say they have isolated an enzyme they could use to rapidly convert seaweed into its constituent sugars. Technically, they inserted genes into E. coli bacteria that can process molecules found in the cell walls of seaweed into sugars--and then ferment those sugars into ethanol or other commodity chemicals.

"About 60 percent of the dry biomass of seaweed are sugars, and more than half of those are locked in a single sugar--alginate," said Bio Architecture Lab CEO Daniel Trunfio in a statement. "Our scientists have developed a pathway to metabolize the alginate, allowing us to unlock all the sugars in seaweed."

Read more here and watch video

Time for me to walk on down the road…

No comments: