Macroalgae cultivation in Scotland

The Sustainable Fuels from Marine Biomass project, Biomara, is a new UK and Irish joint project that aims to demonstrate the feasibility and viability of producing third generation biofuels from marine biomass. It will investigate the potential use of both macroalgae and microalgae as alternatives to terrestrial agri-fuel production.

Seaweed cultivation and harvest is now an established process in Scotland. Macroalgal spores are collected from ripe plants then seeded onto strings. Here the spores germinate to form tiny plants, which are transferred to sea after two months then harvested six to eight months later. The mature macroalgae can be used to generate methane via anaerobic digestion or to produce ethanol by fermentation.

The Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) holds the largest algal culture collection in Europe, some 2.700 strains.

During the Biomara project, wild strains of microalgae characterised by high oil content and high stress resistance will be screened to identify those capable of sustained growth in outdoor conditions.

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