Startup Is Developing Kelp Farms in the Open Ocean to Make Carbon-Neutral Biofuel
by Lacy Cooke (Inhabitat) Marine BioEnergy’s new kelp elevator grows seaweed on a long tube, and if tests go well, they hope to start farming in the open ocean between Hawaii and California. They’re working with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which has developed a way to transform kelp into biocrude. The kelp fuel should be carbon neutral since kelp absorbs around the same amount of carbon dioxide as would be emitted when the fuel is burned.
In 2015, the United States Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy(ARPA-E) gave a grant to Marine BioEnergy, which was started by wife and husband team Cindy and and Brian Wilcox, who works a day job in space robotics at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Marine BioEnergy has also been working with the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on a proof-of-concept study.
Drones could also keep the kelp elevator avoid storms and stay out of the way of ships, and when the seaweed is ready, tow it to a ship. The team is trying to determine whether it might be more economical to make the biocrude right on the ship since a processing center could fit on a container ship powered by the fuel. READ MORE