Scientists Develop an 'Elevator' to Generate Kelp For Biofuels 4x Faster Than Normal
3 min read
In the struggle to slow the runaway freight train of humanity's destructive impact on Earth, scientists are increasingly looking at the role our oceans can play.
Teaming up with industry, scientists from the University of Southern California have discovered a 'kelp elevator' technique that produces ample seaweed, potentially providing a high-yield biofuel to help wean us off fossil fuels.

Many land-based biofuels capable of powering cars, planes, ships, and trucks are currently sourced from mass-produced farm crops like corn, soybeans, and switchgrass. There are several problems with these options, including using up limited food-providing land space, guzzling massive amounts of water, pollution from pesticides and fertilizers, and encroaching on rare biodiverse habitats.

Not only does relying on giant marine algae like seaweed avoid these problems, but the biology of seaweed is also more suited to use as a biofuel.

Giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) can grow at an impressive rate of up to 35 cm (14 inches) a day, in ideal conditions. They constantly form new fronds, allowing the harvesting of the mature fronds, which can reach 30 metres (98 feet) in length and would otherwise just deteriorate and die, without impacting the kelp's growth.

As kelp is a protist, rather than a plant, its molecular composition lacks the sturdy plant lignin that complicates the process of converting land crops into fuel. Furthermore, growing kelp also captures carbon dioxide, which in turn elevates pH levels and oxygen supplies…
Tessa Koumoundouros
Read full article