CPI launches project to produce bio-methane from seaweed through Anaerobic Digestion  

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CPI launches project to produce bio-methane from seaweed through Anaerobic Digestion  

| Press Release

CPI launches project to produce bio-methane from seaweed through Anaerobic Digestion  

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) has announced that it is leading a £2.78 million UK based collaboration to help strengthen the UK’s position as a world leader in industrial biotechnology.

The three year project - ‘SeaGas’ - is working on producing bio-methane from seaweed through anaerobic digestion (AD). The project launched in July 2015 and consists of six partners including The Crown Estate, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Queen’s University Belfast and Newcastle University.

As a founding partner of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, CPI will lead the consortium, the aim being to develop a process that uses seaweed for the generation of sustainable energy by AD. Traditionally, as well as agricultural and food wastes, AD processes use food crops such as maize and beet. However, farmed seaweed could be used as an alternative feedstock for the AD process, thereby limiting the use of prime agricultural land that can be used for growing food crops.

A novel storage system will be developed - to support a 12-month AD operation – to counter seaweed availability and variability. The project will facilitate uptake by AD end users and initiate the building of a viable supply chain for farming and storage of seaweed. The SeaGas project will bring together expertise in AD process development, seaweed growth and storage, 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. It hopes to be a platform for further exploitation of seaweed in other applications.

The project has been awarded £2.78 million over three years as part of the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst. The Catalyst was set up in January 2014 and is funded by Innovate UK,the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support UK researchers and companies and work together to bring their biotechnology innovations to market.

Steve Broome, Head of Business and Projects – AD at CPI, said:

‘’This project brings together a powerful consortium that, for the first time ever, joins up the expertise and facilities needed to develop a methodology and commercial rationale for exploiting the UK’s seabed as a source of sustainable biomass and renewable energy. The idea could have remained stuck on paper - but support from the Catalyst has made this innovative and risky project possible.

Merlin Goldman, Lead Technologist in high value manufacturing at Innovate UK, said;

‘’The UK’s strength in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy is confirmed by this latest round of funded projects through the Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst’’.

Prof Mike Cowling, Chief Scientist at The Crown Estate, which funded the initial pilot study that led to the SeaGas project, said:

“Innovate UK’s support for the SeaGas project is a significant vote of confidence in the planned research programme and the strength of the project consortium, led by CPI. It is particularly gratifying to see that the results of the initial pilot study have led to this exciting next stage investigation of the commercial viability of the production of bio-methane from seaweeds."

Notes to the Editor

About CPI

The Centre for Process Innovation is a UK-based technology innovation centre and part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. We use applied knowledge in science and engineering combined with state of the art development facilities to enable our clients to develop, prove, prototype and scale up the next generation of products and processes. Our open innovation model enables clients to develop products and prove processes with minimal risk. We provide assets and expertise so our customers can demonstrate the process before investing substantial amounts of money in capital equipment and training. New products and processes can be shown to be feasible; on paper, in the lab and in the plant before being manufactured at an industrial scale.

By utilising our proven assets and expertise companies can take their products and processes to market faster. There is no down time in production as all of the process development is completed offsite and our technology transfer and engineering teams can help companies to transfer the product or process into full scale production at speed.


The Crown Estate:
  • The Crown Estate is an independent commercial business, established by Act of Parliament.

  • The Crown Estate’s portfolio is one of the most diverse anywhere in the world, including some of the UK’s most iconic assets:

  • The entire UK seabed and around 50% of the foreshore.

  • All of Regent Street and much of St James’s in central London;

  • A UK top five portfolio of prime regional retail and leisure assets;

  • One of the nation’s largest rural land portfolios;

  • The Crown Estate is manager of the UK seabed to the 12 nautical mile limit. The business holds the rights to generate electricity from wind, waves and the tides out to 200 nautical miles/the Continental Shelf under the Energy Act 2004; and  rights to the transportation and storage of natural gas and carbon dioxide on the continental shelf under the Energy Act 2008

  • 100% of its annual profits are returned to the Treasury for the benefit of the public finances.

  • Over the last 10 years The Crown Estate has returned over £2.3bn to the Treasury. In the last financial year the value of the business rose to £11.5bn and its returns were £285m. 

  • Across its diverse portfolio, The Crown Estate’s approach remains consistent; driving sustainable returns and growth through an active approach to asset management and long term investment in four key sectors; Central London’s West End, prime regional retail, rural land and offshore wind.

  • The Crown Estate’s history can be traced back to 1066. In the 21st century it is a successful, commercial enterprise, established as a market leader in its key sectors and known for a progressive, sustainable approach that creates long term value, beyond its financial return

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) is a world leader in marine science and technology, providing innovative solutions for the aquatic environment, biodiversity and food security. We are the UK’s most diverse centre for applied marine and freshwater science and research, covering an unrivalled breadth of specialist areas to provide a fully integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to all our customers’ needs. Our customer base is diverse, including the UK government, international governments, public and private sector organisations, educational and research institutions, as well as non-governmental organisations. Cefas is headquartered in Lowestoft, with an additional purpose built laboratory in Weymouth. Cefas has a permanent base in Kuwait City to support our environmental work in Kuwait and the wider Middle East.

For more information about Cefas visit www.cefas.co.uk and follow @CefasGovUK

Media Contact

Becky Bendall

Marketing Executive

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)

M: +44 (0)7768 193171

@ukCPI  | www.uk-cpi.com