The SeaGas project will develop a process which uses seaweed for the generation of sustainable energy by anaerobic digestion
Currently agriculture, the food and drinks industry and waste treatment firms employ anaerobic digestion (AD) to treat their wastes and generate energy, thus creating a revenue stream whilst making process savings. A combination of wastes and energy crops are generally used as feeds for AD. However, supply of sufficient waste materials and land-based crops can be variable for a number of reasons. Seaweed potentially offers another energy crop option for coastal/island communities, without the contentious issue associated with land-take which could be used for agriculture.
The UK has access to extensive coastal waters and internationally recognised academic excellence in seaweed. The SeaGas project brings together this detailed knowledge with expertise in AD process development, economic modelling, environmental and social impact assessment and the supply chain - from seabed access for seaweed farming through to biogas injection into the national grid.
The SeaGas project is a three year, fully funded project (InnovateUK) to support the development of an AD process which would utilize farmed seaweed (Saccharina latissima), currently an undeveloped, non-food, sustainable resource in the UK. As a farmed resource, seaweed could potentially be used instead of land biomass to produce both bioenergy and a digestate suitable for use as fertiliser. Other advantages include that there is no requirement for either nutrients in the form of fertilisers or for fresh water for irrigation. A novel storage system for seaweed will be investigated to counter variability in seaweed production, and through that support continuous 12 month operation of an AD plant. The project is innovative in its provision of a scalable, industrial AD process for seaweed. A unique UK implementation plan will be developed, directed by environmental and socio-economic assessment and economic modelling, to facilitate uptake by AD end users and initiate the building of a viable supply chain for farming and storage of seaweed. It will be the platform for further exploitation of seaweed across other applications.
A selection of the latest news from the SeaGas project.