The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System

renewable energy, carbon dioxide sink, biodiesel, and food from the ocean

Utilising Alginate with 80% Efficiency

Posted by on Friday, January 20th, 2012

Harvesting kelp for biofuels has a huge potential. It can be grown pretty much anyplace where the holdfast at its base can gain an anchor within reach of light and as long as the nutrients that it requires are available for growth. This happens in two kinds of places: the frigid waters of the high latitudes and the frigid waters near where currents upwell from the deep ocean. The link between these things is obviously the cold.

Any body of water when it is warmed by the sun at the surface will tend to separate itself into thermocline gradients. The sharply defined layers prevents the mixing of the waters inside them. This leads to a leaching of nutrients needed for plant growth and so by mid spring in places like the north sea primary biological production has for the most part stopped. Deep Ocean Water (DOW), where these nutrients abound, represents 99% of the volume of the ocean and are just out of the reach of marine plants, separated by a thin skin. This is why the tropical oceans are crystal clear. There are almost no microscopic plants (micro algae) in the water to turn it green.

That is not to say that that the potential of seaweed isn’t huge. A company called Bio Architecture Lab based in Berkeley California has perfected an enzyme and process which liberates the sugar from alginate. This single substance represents 30% of the dry mass of seaweed. BAL’s method has an 80% efficiency rate of the theoretical yield. This is a huge advance and by their figures the harvesting of seaweed from 3% of costal waters would generate 60 billion gallons of biofuel.

The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System opens up large areas of coastal ocean to macroscopic algae cultivation that would not normally grow commercially harvestable amounts of seaweed.  It does this by using tidal forces to syphon DOW into a lagoon where it is isolated from the surrounding ocean and creates a large bioreactor. It does this while producing food and gigawatts of electricity. (Please see the links on the right of this page for further details of the products of the system)

The new increase in efficiency in the processing of seaweed by BOL will result in a huge gain in production for the TIE System. The two technologies are made for one another.


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