According to certain studies, seaweed might turn out to be an important alternative for biofuel especially in case it is harvested during the summer. Although it can be suitable for fuel production, its chemical composition depends on the moment of harvesting.
If it is harvested in July, the carbohydrate levels are the highest and so this would ensure the optimal sugar release for biofuel production.
During the fermentation process the soluble sugars and the carbohydrates get converted into ethanol, and this is why we need as much of it as possible. The metals could inhibit the yeast, so this should be as low as possible.
Researchers have been collecting samples every month and they used them in chemical analysis to assess the seasonal variability.
Based on these they have said that the best period to harvest the seaweed is July, because in this period it has the highest level of carbohydrates and the lowest level of metal.
There are several different methods to turn this apparently smelly garbage into biofuel.
People can use fermentation or pyrolysis – anaerobic digestion through which ethanol and methane will be produced to create bio-oil. The chemical composition of kelp plays an important role in both of the cases.
A lot of researchers have been making studies regarding the terrestrial plants, and although they have found some plants to be used for the production of biofuel, there is a conflict between using the land to produce food or biofuel.
The marine ecosystems represent about 50% of the global biomass and the seaweed is able to produce more biomass per square meter than any other fast growing terrestrial plant, the type of sugar cane.
Based on these researches, seaweed could have a major role to play in the future regarding biofuel. Also biofuel has another advantage that other renewable energies don’t: it is storable.
In the future the scientists will be focusing on other factors of biofuel production, like extracting valuable elements such as pigments and phenols before turning the seaweed into biofuel to make as much use of it as possible.
This again proves the truth of the saying ‘a person’s garbage is another person’s treasure’. It is true that sometimes seaweed seems to be a smelly mess, but it turns out it is something that scientists and people can use. The smelly annoying green mass from the sea might help to save the ecosystem, or at least what is still left of it.