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Rapid Liquefaction Process Converts Sugar Kelp to Biofuel

A research team is using a fast hydrothermal liquefaction process to produce “bio-oil” from sugar kelp that grows naturally along the Norwegian coast.

By heating a solution of kelp and water very rapidly, the process converts 79% of the original feedstock into fuel, according to a paper in the journal Algal Research.

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“What we are trying to do is to mimic natural processes to produce oil,” said lead researcher Khanh-Quang Tran of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “However, while petroleum oil is produced naturally on a geologic time scale, we can do it in minutes.”

“Biofuel has long been seen as a promising way to help shift humankind towards a more sustainable and climate friendly lifestyle,” Bazilchuk explains. “Petroleum-like fuels made from crops or substances take up CO2 as they grow and release that same CO2 when they are burned, so they are essentially carbon-neutral.”