Wednesday, April 11, 2007

seaweed as biofuel: sea sponge design for solar panels: ocean answers

Early this year, Japanese scientists proposed large scale production of bioethanol made from cultivated seaweed. The Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Mitsubishi Research Institute, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and several other private-sector firms seek to create a 10,000 square kilometer (3,860 square mile) seaweed farm at Yamatotai, a shallow fishing area in the middle of the Sea of Japan. They claim a farm of this scale could produce about 20 million kiloliters (5.3 billion gallons) of bioethanol per year, which is equivalent to one-third the 60 million kiloliters (16 billion gallons) of gasoline that Japan consumes each year. Floating bioreactors — special facilities that use enzymes to break the seaweed down into sugars — would prepare the seaweed for conversion into ethanol, which would also be done at sea. Tankers would then transport the ethanol to land. The main components of seaweed are fucoidan and alginic acid. While an enzyme for breaking down fucoidan has already been discovered, the scientists continue looking for an enzyme that breaks down alginic acid. Many participants are on board including NEC Toshiba Space Systems, Mitsubishi Electric, IHI, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Shimizu Corporation, Toa Corporation, Kanto Natural Gas Development Co., Ltd., and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC).The researchers claim that in addition to serving as a source of fuel, the seaweed (as a lovely side effect) will help to clean up the Sea of Japan. According to Professor Masahiro Notoya from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, the seaweed would work to remove some of the excess nutrient salts that flow into the sea from the surrounding land masses.

Another interesting design biomimicry of sealife would be forming solar panels with a likeness to sea sponges. Read the full article at Treehugger.

Last but not least, a recent finding about the medical benefits from a rare seaweed that may help to fight cancer

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home