Biofuels

Biofuels

SRSL provide consultancy services in algal biofuels including macroalgal cultivation for methane (ranging from feasibility studies to seeding of lines) and culture of microalgae for biodiesel production. SRSL delivers bespoke commercial services, applied research and R&D projects in this area by building on the unique and cutting edge knowledge-base that exists in biofuel research at the Scottish Marine Institute. This experience-base is supported by the co-location of the Culture Collection for algae and Protozoa (CCAP) and European Centre for Marine Biotechnology (ECMB).

 

Macroalgae

SRSL provide a consultancy services in the culture/farming of macro-algae for use in anaerobic digestion (for methane production), fermentation (for bioethanol production) and the extraction of a range of natural products.

Large brown macroalgae, or kelp, are perhaps the greatest potential source of marine biofuel. They are fast growing and have no internal transport systems for nutrients and water. This saves energy, making them naturally highly productive with a high carbon fixation potential.

Macroalgal and microalgal biomass can be anaerobically digested (AD) to produce methane and fermented to bioethanol. They lack lignin and have a low cellulose content, which makes them a better material for complete biological degradation to methane than land plants.

Seaweed cultivation and harvest is now an established process in Scotland. Macroalgal spores are collected from ripe plants then seeded onto polyamide strings. Here the spores germinate to form tiny plants 2mm long, which are transferred to sea after two months then harvested six to eight months later, when they will have attained a length of over two metres.

The recent €6 million, EU-funded BioMara project (led by SAMS) sought to optimise methodologies and investigate the practicalities associated with harnessing macro-algal biomass as a biofuel source. The project scope included development of the most efficient anaerobic digestion (AD) and fermentation processes for algal biomass.  For more information see: www.biomara.com

SRSL supply commercial services and bespoke applied research projects which build on the knowledge base accrued by SAMS researchers in this area.

Microalgae

SRSL operate at the cutting edge of research services in the use of micro-algae for lipid/biodiesel production, as well for use in bioprospecting projects.

Microalgae comprise a vast group of oil producing organisms, existing as unicells, colonies and extended filaments, capable of growing under a wide variety of conditions. Microalgae are more efficient converters of solar energy than terrestrial plants, thus they have been considered for the production of oils.

Whilst microalgae can be anaerobically digested to produce methane and fermented to produce ethanol, their greater potential value lies in the production of biodiesel. Biodiesel from microalgae has two key advantages over biodiesel produced from other plant oils:

  • Microalgae produce high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. This gives microalgal biodiesel much better cold weather properties. It is fluid at lower temperatures, and so allows diesel engines to function well in cold conditions
  • Microalgae produce 20 to 30 times more oil than temperate plant oil crops when cultured in photobioreactors or on land in open ponds.

SRSL supply research services in:

  • Sustainable production of high-oil-yielding microalgae strains
  • Extraction of the oil from the algae
  • Conversion of microalgal oil into biodiesel

The recent €6 million, EU-funded BioMara project (led by SAMS) was delivered to facilitate commercial biodiesel production by first identifying the high-yielding microalgal strains and then determining the optimal conditions for cultivating them. For more information see: www.biomara.com

In 2010 the Carbon Trust put together a 'dream team' of eleven leading UK institutions to work together to find a winning formula for cultivating 70 billion litres of algae biofuel a year by 2030. This will be the equivalent to 6% of road transport diesel and a saving of over 160 million tonnes of CO2 every year. SAMS was one of eleven institutions selected from over 80 initial proposals following an extensive competition and assessment process (Biofuels Challenge award).

The £500k award to SAMS, entitled "Control of Grazers" (COG) runs from 2010-13 and addresses the problem that algal grazing has the potential to devastate the whole "crop". COG aims to develop robust methodologies for the early detection of protozoan "infection" of algal mass-cultures. In addition, management strategies will be developed to prevent/reduce, damage caused by protozoan grazing.

SRSL delivers bespoke commercial services, applied research and R&D projects in this area by building on the scientific knowledge accrued by SAMS researchers in this area. This expertise supported by the co-location of the Culture Collection for algae and Protozoa (CCAP) at the Scottish Marine Institute.

Our Project Experience (Aquaculture)

 
 

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