MacroBioCrude: Developing an Integrated Supply and Processing Pipeline for the Sustained Production of Ensiled Macroalgae-derived Hydrocarbon Fuels

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Life and Sports Sciences, FES

Abstract

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Publications

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Redden H (2016) Changes in higher heating value and ash content of seaweed during ensiling in Journal of Applied Phycology

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Milledge, JJ (2014) Pyrolysis of Invasive Seaweed Species in Seaweed for Biofuel: Towards a sustainable seaweed supply chain.

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Milledge, JJ (2014) Pyrolysis of Invasive Seaweed Species in The British Phycological Society Annual Meeting

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Milledge JJ (2016) Potential process 'hurdles' in the use of macroalgae as feedstock for biofuel production in the British Isles. in Journal of chemical technology and biotechnology (Oxford, Oxfordshire : 1986)

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Milledge J (2016) Ensilage and anaerobic digestion of Sargassum muticum in Journal of Applied Phycology

 
Description There is sufficient energy in the biocrude and syngas fractions produced by the pyrolysis of seaweed (Sargassum muticum) to power the process and produce useful biochar, but insufficient energy for drying. Methods of energy production that do not require drying are therefore needed to exploit seaweed for energy.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce biogas fuel readily tolerates biomass with high moisture content without the energy drawbacks from dewatering and drying. One of the key factors in achieving a positive energy balance in algal AD is a high conversion of organic material to methane; increasing CH4 yield from AD of seaweed was found to be a vital factor in improving process energy balance and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Real-world yields of biogas from digestion of many algae are substantially below the theoretical maximum. The methane potential of Sargassum muticum, a brown seaweed, is only ~0.13 L CH4 g-1 VS, 27 % of theoretical maximum methane yield. Co-digestion with a low nitrogen content, low-cost substrate, crude glycerol, improved methane yield. The recalcitrance of polymers, such as alginates, and the inhibition of the breakdown of these complex molecules by certain phenolics were found to be factors in the low methane yields of S. muticum.
Although AD uses wet material, the seasonal nature of seaweed harvesting requires that the biomass is preserved for year-round biofuel production. Ensiling was found to be an effective, low energy loss method of preserving seaweed (Sargassum muticum) with energy loss from the biomass due to ensiling <8 % of the higher heating value of seaweed feedstock. Ensiling results in losses of salt from the biomass and the virtual total loss of organic sulphur. Size reduction of seaweed prior to ensilage reduced leachate and energy loss from the biomass. Ensiling had no significant effect on methane yield.
Exploitation Route Establishing practical solutions for managing the invasive brown seaweed Sargassum muticum.
Sargassum muticum is an invasive species to the coasts of the British Isles, mainland Europe and North America. Attempts at its eradication and control have generally not been successful, although time-consuming and costly. Commercial exploration of this biomass for fuel could encourage its harvesting and control. Anaerobic digestion (AD) has been suggested as one of the most promising methods of exploiting algae for biofuel.
Sectors Energy

Environment

 
Description Please see the impact description provided for EP/K014900/1. Additionally Macrobiocrude nucleated a new research area in algal biotechnology at the University of Greenwich (https://www.nri.org/research/aquatic-biotechnology-and-biology/background) supported by (1) New grants in algal research e.g. Interreg 2Seas project "Valgorize" (Valorisation of algae for a better taste, Jul2018 -March 2023) for sustainable delivery of food and feed from macro and microalgal biomass with zero waste; Darwin Plus round 7 (2019-2021) Sustainable solutions for Sargassum inundations in Turks & Caicos; CEFAS Seafood Innovation Fund(2021) Halogenated compounds in seaweed; BBSRC(Algae-UK)-Quadrise (2021-2022) Microalgal glycerol for bioenergy applications; new 2 PhD studentships (2) New research posts: 2 new post-doctoral positions in algae research funded for 3 years from April 2019 by the University; a newly created lectureship in Algal Biotechnology commencing April 2022. (3) A new UK algal network: Algae-UK Exploiting the Algal Treasure Trove - a BBSRC NIBB Network 2018-2023, of which I am co-director. (4) Reputation as an authority on algae biotechnology: e.g. invitation to lead a high-level conference organised by the Marine Resources Unit of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission on new algae value chains (2016); Invitation to prepare an evidence review report on the potential of the oceans to support increased algae cultivation for the Scientific Advisory Mechanism of the European Commission, to inform Policy, which was adopted in December 2017. The documents were widely disseminated by the Commission's media and communications services in conjunction with news alerts to journalists, specialized audiences, services of relevance within all EU institutions (Commission DGs, Parliamentary Committees, Council Working Groups, etc.) and to Permanent Representations of Member States to the EU. Remarks from a variety of sources point out that the work is very welcome and helpful in relation to taking forward specific developments at policy and practitioner level, most especially within the Commission, at the level of the Commissioner and Commission services; Invitation as an expert authority to the DG Mare Blue Bioeconomy Forum Working Group (2019) to develop a Roadmap for the Blue Bioeconomy. I have also advised journalists including from the Financial Times.
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy
Impact Types Cultural

Societal

Policy & public services

 
Description Potential of new algae value chains for food : FOOD 2030: Research & Innovation for Tomorrow's Nutrition & Food Systems' EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR RESEARCH & INNOVATION Workshop on aquatic food products and new marine value chains, The SQUARE, Brussels 12-13 October 2016
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a guidance/advisory committee
 
Description AB Vista 
Organisation AB Vista
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Exchange of research information on use of algae for animal feed
Collaborator Contribution Exchange of research information on use of algae for animal feed
Impact A PhD studentship to study, "The potential of polysaccharide process products from Dunaliella and other halotolerant microalgae as farm animal feed additives with immune-modulatory"
Start Year 2014
 
Description Accelerated Carbonation Group University of Greenwich 
Organisation University of Greenwich
Department Contaminated Land Remediation and Waste Management
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Supply of seaweed ash sample to the Accelerated Carbonation Group University of Greenwich for suitability of seaweed ash for accelerated carbonation and carbon sequestration
Collaborator Contribution Testing of seaweed ash for accelerated carbonation and carbon sequestration
Impact Research data on accelerated carbonation of seaweed ash
Start Year 2014
 
Description D-Factory 
Organisation D-Factory
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Regular meetings for exchange of research data on algal biofuels and biorefining
Collaborator Contribution Regular meetings for exchange of research data on algal biofuels and biorefining
Impact Regular exchange of research data on algal biofuels and biorefining
Start Year 2013
 
Description Ecotec 21 
Organisation European Commission
Department Interreg : European Territorial Co-operation
Country European Union (EU) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Regular exchange of research data on fuel supply chain from algae and use of biofuel-CHP systems
Collaborator Contribution Regular exchange of research data on fuel supply chain from algae and use of biofuel-CHP systems
Impact Regular exchange of research data on fuel supply chain from algae and use of biofuel-CHP systems
Start Year 2013
 
Description EnAlgae 
Organisation EnAlgae
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Invited as a contributor to the "Benefits and risks from biomass production with seaweed.
Collaborator Contribution Invited as a contributor to the "Benefits and risks from biomass production with seaweed.
Impact Contributor to the "Benefits and risks from biomass production with seaweed.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Environmental Conservation Centre for Landscape Ecology & GIS Faculty of Engineering and Science University of Greenwich 
Organisation University of Greenwich
Department Faculty of Engineering & Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaboration and exchange of research information on invasive seaweed species
Collaborator Contribution Collection of invasive seaweeds samples for pyrolysis experiments and energy balance assessment
Impact Potential TV programme and article on the pyrolysis of invasive seaweeds. One conference poster
Start Year 2013
 
Description IOTA 
Organisation IOTA Pharmaceuticals
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Successful joint bid for a BIV, "Road Map for the use of the Seaweed Sargassum muticum in high value Bioactive Compound Discovery" from the High Value Compounds from Plants Network"
Collaborator Contribution Successful joint bid for a BIV, "Road Map for the use of the Seaweed Sargassum muticum in high value Bioactive Compound Discovery" from the High Value Compounds from Plants Network"
Impact BIV, "Road Map for the use of the Seaweed Sargassum muticum in high value Bioactive Compound Discovery" from the High Value Compounds from Plants Network
Start Year 2014
 
Description Lees Court Estate 
Organisation Lees Court Estate
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Exploration of a potential research project on the farming of seaweed in the Swale Estuary
Collaborator Contribution Joint exploration of a research project to understand social impact and likely stakeholder involvement if seaweed were to be cultivated in the Swale Estuary
Impact Submission of PhD funding proposal to VC of Greenwich University, "The potential of macroalgae from the Swale estuary for the sustainable production of high value cosmetic additives" Discussions with stakeholders to develop a case study aimed at understanding social impacts of cultivating seaweed in the Swale Estuary
Start Year 2013
 
Description Natural England 
Organisation Natural England
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Collaboration on potential TV article on Sargassum Muticum
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on potential TV article on Sargassum Muticum
Impact Potential TV article on Sargassum Muticum
Start Year 2014
 
Description The High Value Chemicals from Plants Network (HVCfP) 
Organisation High Value Chemicals from Plants
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution Funding of project on the non-fuel potential of the seaweed Sargassum muticum
Collaborator Contribution Funding provided to examine non-fuel potential of the seaweed Sargassum muticum in addition to EPSRC work on biofuel
Impact Review published
Start Year 2015
 
Description Universidad de A Coruña 
Organisation University of A Coruña
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Discussions on areas of joint interest in Sargassum muticum and other seaweeds
Collaborator Contribution Discussions on areas of joint interest in Sargassum muticum and other seaweeds
Impact None as yet
Start Year 2015
 
Description Potential of new algae value chains for food : FOOD 2030: Research & Innovation for Tomorrow's Nutrition & Food Systems' EUROPEAN COMMISSION DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR RESEARCH & INNOVATION Workshop on aquatic food products and new marine value chains, The SQUARE, Brussels 12-13 October 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The FOOD 2030 high level event provided a platform for dialogue to build on the political momentum for a coherent research and innovation policy framework for Food and Nutrition Security and boost future investment in research and innovation in support of impactful nutrition and food systems research breakthroughs, market-creating and open innovation, open science and multi-actor engagement, building of capacities and skills; and strengthen global collaboration for improved research policy alignment.
FOOD 2030 explored what is needed to transform and future-proof our food systems to be sustainable, resilient, competitive, diverse, responsible and performant in their provision of accessible, healthy and sustainable food and diets for all.It also investigated how research and innovation systems can be scaled-up to better contribute to the above Food and Nutrition Security priorities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://ec.europa.eu/research/conferences/2016/food2030/index.cfm?pg=workshops