We’ve written about kelp as a tool for capturing carbon emissions, but it turns out these giant underwater forests could provide a solution for many of our environmental crises. Researchers from the University of Southern California have found that kelp could serve as a fast-growing and efficient source of biofuel.
Traditional biofuel sources, like corn and soybeans, still consume agricultural resources to produce, but kelp can grow up to a foot per day and doesn’t require land, freshwater, or fertilizer. Using strategic moving platforms, scientists can optimize kelp growth for carbon capture, habitat, food, and biofuel.
Like corn, kelp can be used to produce ethanol, which is then blended into gasoline. Even better, it can be used to produce bio-crude. This entirely organic materials-based oil is created using hydrothermal liquefaction, a process that relies on temperature and pressure to turn kelp into the oil.
It would require an immense amount of water space to produce enough kelp to fuel the world’s vehicles, but it could serve as a valuable resource to bridge the gap between combustion engines and an entirely electric world.
Moving forwards, the researchers plan to further research yield efficiency to reduce the amount of space needed to produce this kelp.