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. This 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. In an effort to address this issue, the INTERREG funded BioMara 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.
The focus of this project will be the optimisation of biogas production from algae by investigating advanced pre-treatment and co-digestion technologies.