Seaweed to the Rescue!

Always on the look out for the next good thing that will rescue us from the last bad thing I ran across this article about the potential of seaweed to be a bio-fuel to replace, in some part, our thirst for fossil fuels.  Having a brother in on an exciting beta-test of a related effort sharpens my interest.

“Many millions of [dollars] are being invested in seaweed research from Vietnam to Israel to Chile because producing biofuels in the sea removes at a stroke many of the serious problems with conventional biofuels. Though important as greener alternatives to oil, many biofuels are produced from food crops, such as corn and sugar, which drives up global prices in a world where a billion people are already hungry. Biofuel production also consumes increasingly scarce freshwater and the worst examples — those from palm oil — can produce more carbon dioxide than diesel.

“Seaweed does not have any of those problems,” says Phil Kerrison, another marine scientist, back at the Sams labs. Seaweed farming has even been shown to clean up the pollution from fish farms and kelp grows far more quickly than land plants, turning sunlight into chemical energy five times more efficiently.”

Kelptomaniacs to the Energy Rescue

More interesting news about new forms of biofuels:

“Scientists in a cluttered Berkeley laboratory are working a bit of biochemical wizardry to transform ordinary seaweed into biofuels that promise a new source of energy for this oil-dependent nation.

The lab’s research has already fueled a startup company whose workers in southern Chile are farming nearly 200 acres of kelp offshore and building a pilot plant that aims to demonstrate it can scale up production rapidly to produce a major source of ethanol and essential chemicals in the very near future.

The raw material is the same waving kelp species that sea otters love in Monterey Bay, but its tough fronds have long proved impossible for common bacteria to digest…
SF Gate:

Mass to Mandate Bio Fuel Use?

With all the usual caveats about bio-fuel, this is an interesting initiative from Massachusetts.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick and legislative leaders proposed a bill on Monday to require all home heating oil and diesel fuel to contain at least 5 percent biofuel by 2013.

Massachusetts would be the first state to require that home heating oil contain renewable fuels, a significant issue in a state where 36 percent of homes use home heating oil, according to Census figures. That compares with the 8 percent national average.