Page last updated at 16:11 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 17:11 UK
Seaweed: energy for the future?
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Dr Michelle Stanley of SAMA explains how seaweed can be used for energy

Seaweed found around the Scottish coast line could provide a viable new energy source for the future.

The Scottish Association for Marine Science are carrying out a study which aims to realise the potential of turning seaweed into energy.

Biomara is a UK and Irish project being led by scientists at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) near Oban.

The team aim to find the best species, locations and processes to create a viable fuel from algae.

Energy from seaweed

The study is investigating different ways of obtaining energy from seaweed.

One process breaks down macro-algae to create methane gas which can then be used to create electricity.

Another alternative will see the team extract oil from algae which could eventually be used in cars.

Currently, there are round 30 million tonnes of seaweed growing wild around the Scottish coast.

Environmental impact

Seaweed on the seabed
Seaweed has potential as an energy source

However its removal could leave a damaging environmental impact.

Lars Brunner from the SAMS explains how the Scottish coastline is perfect for cultivating the seaweed they need without damaging current crops:

"We will be growing seaweed from the wild stock seeds we collect and replanting them in other parts of the country and on seaweed farms to see the difference in the wild and cultivated seaweed.

"Kelp (seaweed) provides such an important habitat for other species that it's not really fair or sensible to go in and start removing it en masse ….we can grow seaweed using the best knowledge that's available and we have all the right conditions in Scotland to be able to do it."

Renewable energy

Similar projects have been carried out in the USA and the Far East and now Scotland could have key role in the future development of this renewable energy source.

Landward's Sarah Mack discovered the potential of seaweed to be become a solution to our energy needs.




SEE ALSO
Seaweed farms 'could fuel future'
26 Oct 08 |  Scotland

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