On a research farm located in New England, biologist Scott Lindell of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) measures long strands of seaweed at a black table.
He and some associates are embarking on a new study that observes the characteristics of kelp in order to determine whether they can be used as bio-fuels to power millions of cars.
The Advantages of Seaweed
With each passing year, research is conducted in order to discover more fuel-efficient ways to power our vehicles. As nonrenewable energy sources such as fossil fuels continue to harm the environment and slowly deplete, engineers and researchers have turned to biofuels. Seaweed may just be one of the next sources of fuel to help you get to work in the morning.
Unlike other crop-based resources, such as corn and sugar, which are also likely candidates for biofuels, seaweed has several advantages. Although some cultures (and people) enjoy eating seaweed, it is not globally consumed at nearly the same rate as other resources, therefore its price will not increase. This, of course, will keep fuel prices lower for longer periods of time.
Farming seaweed also cleans up the pollution from fish farms and it grows much quicker than land plants. Research has shown that seaweed converts sunlight into renewable energy at a rate five times faster than other biofuels.
Challenges That Lie Ahead
The first challenge is to determine the best species of seaweed in order to commence with crossbreeding. Years of research are required to find the most efficient form of seaweed to use for biofuels.
Another concern is the rise in water temperatures. Since seaweed thrives in cooler waters, it’s going to be difficult to ensure that the temperature of seaweed farms doesn’t become a breeding ground for harmful organisms.
What Does This Mean for Vehicles
Biofuels are most certainly the future. And this happens to have a huge impact on vehicles as companies manufacture more fuel-efficient cars. The biggest decision car owners will need to make is whether or not a more expensive, fuel-efficient vehicle is worth purchasing if gas prices stay relatively low due to further advancements in bio-fuel engineering.