Adiamo Alghe! Italian Biodiesel Producers Turn to Seaweed as a Feedstock
photo: Karel Hladky
Though they’re not the first group to have a go at using seaweed as a feedstock for biofuels, they may be one of the largest. Reuters is reporting that Italy’s Union of Biodiesel Producers hopes to commercialize the production of seaweed-based biodiesel within five years. They plan on investing €10 million ($14 million) into the project, which hopes to make an end run around the lingering food versus fuel debate by utilizing a non-food feedstock that is incapable of competing with croplands. Here’s how they plan to do it:University of Florence Selecting Seaweed SpeciesThough the specific species of seaweed has yet to be determined, the group is working with scientists at the University of Florence to find a variety which could be grown in plastic tubes of seawater and fed with carbon dioxide captured from a nearby fossil fuel power plant.
Dubbed the ‘Mambo’ project, the initial species selection phase is expected to last two years, after which a production facility will be built at an unspecified location in southern Italy.
Seaweed or Algae Biodiesel?Though Reuters is saying that the group is investigating ‘seaweed’ the whole thing sounds a lot like the process a number of companies are developing using algae. Not to mention, the word for algae and seaweed is (I believe) the same in Italian. Not much more than that at this point, but when we find out more we’ll let you know.
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