Advanced biofuels from seaweed - macroFuels: turning a vision into reality

Since its start in 2016 the Horizon 2020 research and innovation project ‘MacroFuels’ achieved crucial breakthroughs for the production of advanced biofuels from macroalgae, commonly known as seaweed. During the EUSEW Energy Talk MacroFuels will showcase its concept for sustainably producing liquid fuels and fuel additives, such as ethanol, acetone-ethanol-butanol and novel furanics, from seaweed for the heavy transport and aviation sectors. We will present the progress achieved during the project and discuss societal aspects and possible future strategies to foster a sustainable seaweed-based bioenergy sector in Europe. This will entail insights into the potential long-term impacts of a future seaweed-to-biofuel value chain.

The Talk will highlight MacroFuels’ advances and innovation along all segments of the seaweed-to-biofuels value chain, from novel concepts for the sustainable year-round large-scale seaweed cultivation in Europe via a novel and economically viable seaweed biorefinery through to seaweed-based fuel (additive) performances under real road conditions and in novel engine concepts that allow to use advanced biofuels more effectively. For the latter, MacroFuels entered a cooperation with the Dutch TNO Engine Center and test results from the first litres of biofuel from seaweed produced by MacroFuels will be shown.

Based on impressive visual material the audience will get a real impression of what a seaweed farm looks like, how seaweed is processed and treated and eventually converted to a liquid fuel. The audience will also learn about the great environmental potential of this, for Europe rather novel, biomass, but also existing knowledge gaps will be discussed. Indeed, seaweed represents a highly promising feedstock for sustainable biofuels regarding the great potential for CO2 absorption (for the Dutch part of the North Sea alone a CO2 reduction potential of about 11 million tons were calculated) and the fast growth rates of seaweed (e.g.  compared to trees) result in a much faster reabsorption of CO2 released from its combustion. However, not all potential environmental impacts, especially those of large-scale seaweed cultivation, are known yet. Necessary future work will be highlighted during the Talk and policy recommendations given.

Following the presentation, the aspects of the seaweed-to-biofuel value chain – technological, economic and environmental – will be debated with the audience and expectations and concerns discussed.

Speakers

Rita Clancy, MacroFuels Communication Officer
'MacroFuels' Communication Officer
Eurida Research Management