Currently most research into efficient algal-oil production is being carried out by the private sector, but if predictions from small scale production experiments are realised then using algae to produce biodiesel may be the only viable method by which to produce enough bio-fuel to replace current world petrol/diesel usage. Micro-algae in particular have much faster growth-rates than terrestrial crops. The yield of oil from algae is estimated to be from between 19,000 to 75,000 litres per acre, per year; this is 7 to 31 times greater than the next best crop, oil of palm. As terrestrial contributions are greatly limited by the finite area of land available under any culture method, it is essential that the potential of the marine environment as a source of biomass for bio-fuel production is realised. The group intends to facilitate a multi-disciplinary research programme through the recruitment of experienced researchers aimed at the acquisition of new knowledge and skills in the production of biofuels from native seaweed and cultured micro-algae. The project will identify the native seaweed and cultured micro-algal processes with the most potential for fuel production, the best time and technique to harvest seaweed and the culture methodologies for micro-algae along with an economic and environmental appraisal which will identify the size of the farm required and the feasibility of a commercial size operation. This will provide the physical (biomass product) and the intellectual (methodology for production and extraction) tools to enable the bio-fuel sector to base it’s business on the most suitable and profitable process.
Fields of science
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