Scientists in IT Sligo are collaborating with researchers from The Scottish Association for Marine Science, The Centre for Renewable Energy at DKIT, University of Strathclyde, University of Ulster and Queen’s University Belfast on the INTERREG funded BioMara Project. This project will demonstrate the feasibility and viability of producing mari-fuels from marine biomass derived from both macroalgal (seaweeds) and microalgal (single celled plants) sources as an alternative to agri-fuels production from terrestrial land plants.
As we fast approach an era for peak oil and with climate change an undeniable reality the search for sustainable, environmentally sound, energy sources has been the subject of intensive study over the last decade. Significant advancement in biofuel production technology has enabled large scale production of bioethanol from simple sugars such as starch and sucrose and biodiesel from plant oils; however, the production of these “first generation” biofuels requires vast quantities of arable land. With the worlds population fast approaching 7 billion and expected to reach 9 billion by 2040 there is mounting pressure on the earth’s finite supply of arable land to meet the nutritional needs of humankind. The competition between food and fuel has become a hotly debated topic and has been cited as a contributing factor in the spike of global food prices in 2007/2008. The BioMara project aims to alleviate this competition by generating novel technology for the production of fuel from non-terrestrial plants.
The focus of the research being conducted in IT Sligo is the optimisation of biogas production from algae by investigating advanced pre-treatment and co-digestion technologies.
For further information on the BioMara Project visit www.biomara.org