Sea Water Could Hold Key to Fuel Demands

SCOTLAND, UK – The answer to society’s fuel demands could literally be all around us according to Aberdeen scientists – in fact it makes up two thirds of the planet’s surface. A research team is hoping to turn seawater into biofuels within the next four years.

Named the AccliPhot project, it is backed by €4 million ($5.4 million) of EU funding and involves 12 partners from across the continent.

Its aim is to try and understand more fully how plants and microalgae respond to changes in light and other conditions and use that information to make new products, with a main focus on biofuels.

“Cultivating algae using water that can’t be used for irrigation, like salt water or brackish water, makes sense because it’s so vast – it’s all around us and there’s no competition to use the land to grow other things,” researcher Oliver Ebenhoeh says.

“We can’t just put corn in your car’s gas tank because it’s being used to feed millions of people already – it won’t be sustainable. This is one of the key motivations to look into marine microalgae.”

First minister for Scotland Alex Salmond adds: “This project could herald another exciting development in Scotland’s energy story. These researchers are ideally placed, being based in a city that has heritage in the offshore industry.”

Research partners include the likes of France, Switzerland and Italy among others.