27 August 2008

3% of Earth's Oceans Can Replace All Fossil Fuels

Ricardo Radulovich has a plan to replace fossil fuels with energy from seaweed. He claims that only 3% of the oceans can grow enough biomass for energy conversion to replace the more polluting fuels. It sounds like an idea that should be looked into.
...where are the best areas to grow seaweed? “There are many places already identified where seaweeds can be properly farmed such as on the Pacific Coasts of North and South America, and in the Caribbean where there are currently several seaweed farms,” Radulovich says. In those places, the seaweed is grown primarily for food and fertilizers. “Actually, any place where seaweeds grow naturally may be good for farming. In fact, since farming implies using ropes and other means for seaweed attachment, many seas where seaweeds don’t grow naturally could also be good places for farming.” Radulovich emphasizes that if the seaweed can be tied for floatation or drifting, farming could be an option. “I think even the Sargasso Sea, with its extensive calm waters, could be used for this,” he says. In the future, he would like to explore the Sargasso Sea further, as it may provide a low-cost basis for large-scale seaweed cultivation.

...Radulovich says his experiments involve obtaining 2 percent recoverable oil content on a dry-weight basis. “This produced about 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of oil per hectare per year,” he says. The oil yield can be increased by selecting or developing seaweed strains that produce more oil.

After the oil is extracted, the seaweed biomass may be used for alcohol production. “Ethanol yield is expected at about 40 percent of the biomass yield on a dry weight basis,” Radulovich says. “Thus more than 20,000 liters (52,843 gallons) of ethanol per hectare per year can be obtained.”

After ethanol production, a considerable amount of residue is left, which can be burned to generate electricity. _BiomassMag
His conversion of litres to gallons appears to be a mistake, but you can get the general idea of his preliminary estimates.

Take wastewater that currently pollutes coastal areas. Divert it to ocean algal farms where it will promote algal growth. Turn the algae first into oil. Then turn what is left to ethanol, methanol or butanol. Then take the biomass residue, torrefy and compress it, and use it in place of coal in a combined cycle electrical generating plant. Be resourceful. Love your planet.

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Blogger bw said...

Japan's Mitsubishi Research Institute is pushing a large scale genetically modified seaweed biofuel project. 75 million tons/year around 2020. Also, want to use the seaweed to extract uranium from seawater

Wednesday, 27 August, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks, Brian.

Oceans make up most of the surface of the planet, and already produce an amazing amount of biological material. A bit of tweaking here and there may produce astounding yields in the near future.

Wednesday, 27 August, 2008  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

With the many sources of energy that are being developed and discovered it will be interesting to see what uses will be more economical in what contexts. It may come to pass that the in order to provide an incentive to keep developing more energy efficient technologies is to create artificial habitats in extremely isolated environments like space, deep ocean, desert and arctic where access to the new energy markets is limited.

It would be interesting to consider what kind of technologies would be possible if energy cost was less of a problem. Higher speed tunnel boring techniques or faster automated road and bridge building technologies. Which biofuels giving cheaper chemistry feed stocks and combining biofuels with solar, wind and varying scales of hydropower for our electrical and transportation needs, we might decide to use nuclear - especially those small scale reactors - for some of our more specific purpose projects and industries.

Wednesday, 27 August, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

The small Hyperion-type "nuclear batteries" might be just the ticket for your extreme colony. I might prefer a Bussard fusion reactor with a few Hyperion-type reactors for backup, along with enhanced geothermal.

I suspect that some isolated high tech extreme colonies might not be a bad idea. It will take time to site them and build them. And the ratio of civilised people to barbarians is dropping very quickly. Once the barbarians get their hands on some powerful self-assembling nano-toxins, it might not be nearly so safe to eat, drink, and breathe at the common trough, or travel the common byways and flyways, so to speak.

A lot of people run straight line or exponential upward projections of human progress. But many parts of the world will see hell before they see paradise. Not just parts of the third world, but parts of the developed world.

The singularity may occur in approximately the splendour that Ray Kurzweil expects. It will just likely happen a few decades later, and in a far more fractured manner, geographically.

Wednesday, 27 August, 2008  

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