Page last updated at 10:35 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Grant for marine biofuel project

Mari-fuels can be produced from seaweed and algae

A Scottish-led project to develop fuel sources from the sea has been give a 5m grant by the European Union.

The cash will be used to examine ways of producing mari-fuels - the marine equivalent to plant-based biofuels.

The Scottish Association for Marine Sciences in Oban will lead development work with partners from Ireland.

They will look at the viability of using marine biomass from seaweed and algae as an alternative to agri-fuel production from land-based plants.

The cross-border project also involves Queens University Belfast and the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland and the Institutes of Technology in Dundalk and Sligo in Ireland.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: "The investment is a welcome boost to what is proving to be one of our most resilient and promising sectors in these challenging economic times.

"By identifying the potential for a new industry, this regional project could bring long-term economic and social benefits, including the prospect of hundreds of valuable jobs in remote coastal areas and islands.

"The development of mari-fuels could have a lasting impact on remote and rural communities by providing locally produced, relatively cheap, low-impact fuel as well as serving the local public transport infrastructure."

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