Page 52: of Marine Technology Magazine (June 2020)

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Latest research, projects and news from universities, institutions & institutes

Plymouth Marine Lab

PML: Invasive Seaweed Finds New Role as Coastal Cleanup Hero

A research team, led by the University explained the need for an economically temperature and pressure, turning the of Exeter and the University of Bath, has and environmentally viable method: seaweed into bio-oil that can be processed developed a cheap and simple way of cre- “Processing marine biomass like seaweed further into fuels and high-quality, low- ating biofuel and fertilizer from seaweed, usually requires removing it from the cost fertiliser. aiding in its cleanup and the removal of saltwater, washing it in fresh water and “For the frst time this study demon- plastic from tourist beaches in the Carib- drying it. The costs of these processes can strates that, rather than a hindrance, the bean and Central America. be prohibitively high.” presence of saltwater can be helpful,”

The study, recently published in the As a solution, the team devised a process noted Ed Jones of the University of Bath

Journal of Chemical Technology and that, using acidic and basic catalysts, and lead author on the paper.

Biotechnology, aims to remove invasive releases sugars that can be fed to a yeast Additional implications include plastic seaweed, like Sargassum, which is costly that produces a palm oil substitute. conversion, an idea inspired by Allen’s to cleanup and deters tourists, while also This method also prepares the residual children as they helped to collect samples; producing biofuel in a sustainable way. seaweed for the next stage of process- any plastic found on the beaches will be

Professor Mike Allen of the University ing, called hydrothermal liquefaction. converted alongside the seaweed. of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Lab The organic material is subjected to high

The process of hydrothermal liquefaction, a method of converting seaweed into useful products including fertilisers, biofuels, and stock chemicals. © Amy Pilsbury, PhycoMExUK

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