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Seaweed for Biofuel Best in July

July 8, 2011
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Brendan Hughes at Western Mail writes that July is the month to harvest ocean seaweed in the Northern Hemisphere if the plant is to achieve its potential as a viable biofuel, according to Welsh scientists. Researchers at Aberystwyth University say kelp seaweed could provide an important alternative to land-based biofuels, but the suitability of its chemical composition varies with the seasons.

The scientists say that harvesting the kelp in July, when carbohydrate levels are at their highest, would ensure optimal sugar release for the production of biofuel. They collected monthly samples of kelp from the Welsh coast and used chemical analysis to assess the seasonal variability.

The kelp’s storage carbohydrate and soluble sugars get converted into ethanol in the fermentation process; metals can inhibit the yeast. The new research showed July was best month for biofuel harvesting, as the kelp contained the highest proportions of carbohydrate and the lowest metal content during this month. Samples harvested in March were the least favorable for biofuel creation, as they contained the lowest proportion of carbohydrate and the highest ash and alkali metal content.

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