Monday, May 6, 2013

How to prepare seaweed for commercial biomass production?

The Spanish scientists from the University of Alicante have developed a novel algae removal and treatment system that turns algae such as seaweed into a biomass. The process itself includes several stages of washing, drying and compacting without leaving the beach thus making it cheaper, more efficient and more environmentally friendly than the currently used procedures.

It has been stated that this process allows up to an „80 percent of the weight and volume currently removed would stay on the beaches, as now with the seaweed water and sand are also sent to rubbish tips or treatment plants.“ This, of course, amounts to considerable savings on transportation.

The main principle of this novel system is based on a moving platform with wheels with three installed hoppers. The first hopper receives shovelfuls of wet seaweed with sand attached. Seawater is pumped in and poured back into the sea dragging the sand with it. The next hopper is responsible for water purification with a solar-powered device that washes most of the salt from the algae, while in the third hopper algae gets dried with air heated by solar energy.

After this is done, the clean and dry seaweed could be then pressed or converted into bales or pellets, ready to for commercial biofuel production. The additional benefit is that there are no chemical products used in the process.

The currently used method has several significant drawbacks, such as the deterioration of beaches due to the extraction of sand that then has to be replaced, the significant weight of the waste, and the saturation of certain landfills to which it is taken.