You’d expect to find seaweed in the sea. You’re probably happy to eat it. But have you ever thought about driving a truck powered by seaweed?
Every year, 25 million tonnes of seaweed is harvested, largely for the food and cosmetics industries. But scientists are also researching the use of seaweed as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. The aim is to develop an industry that produces biofuels from seaweed that can be used to power diesel-engine trucks.
Of course, this kind of clean air technology can’t be developed overnight. There are many factors to consider – not least the volume of seaweed that would be required.
Dr Jaap van Hal, innovation manager at ECN (Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands), is the scientific coordinator of a project called MacroFuels. Researchers are looking at ways of breaking down seaweed to extract the maximum amount of sugars (the building blocks for green chemicals and biofuels).
Researchers hope to have a pilot project that grows a sustainable seaweed supply chain in place by the end of 2019.
According to Dr van Hal, biofuels are just the start: “Seaweed-to-energy is only a small part of a blue growth revolution towards sustainable use of the sea for a local production of raw materials for energy, food and chemicals.”
So, seaweed-powered trucks could actually be a thing. Who knows what else will be powering trucks in the future.