Kelp has been proved to have bright prospects in the production of biofuel raw materials. A research team from the University of Southern California (USC) has just introduced the “kelp elevator” technology, which is expected to significantly increase kelp production. Specifically, this technology can maximize the exposure of kelp to sunny water surface and nutrient rich underwater environment, so as to achieve four times the yield of traditional schemes.
Newatlas pointed out that compared with corn, sugarcane, low erucic acid rapeseed and other plants, kelp has the biggest advantage that it does not need to rely on land to grow.
This is a huge benefit for valuable natural habitats and farmers’ farmland. In addition, kelp culture does not need fresh water, fertilizer or pesticides, and can grow naturally in the marine environment.
However, as one of the fastest growing plants in nature, kelp will also pose a series of challenges to the controlled aquaculture environment.
For example, plant roots must be fixed in sunny waters in order to achieve good reproduction. However, it is difficult to ensure light in nutrient rich deep-water areas.
In order to overcome this problem, the USC team simply put forward a set of best of both worlds solution – so that kelp can take the elevator to rise and fall!
This set of “kelp elevator” is composed of glass fiber tube, stainless steel cable and horizontal beam. When the whole structure is raised and lowered, the kelp cultivated on it will also experience a deep cycle.
During the 100 day test off the coast of California, scientists raised the high-yielding kelp (macrocys tispyrifera) to a sunny sleep every day and returned to the seabed 260 feet (80 meters) deep at night to absorb important nutrients such as nitrate / phosphate.
Through this cultivation method, kelp can achieve rapid growth, and the output is even four times that of ordinary kelp.
Brian Wilcox, co-founder and chief engineer of marine bioenergy, said: “what’s better is that this scheme does not need to use any new technology. You can use ready-made products to build the lifting breeding system of kelp farm”.
Once put into use, deep recycling farms may lead to a novel biofuel raw material. Not only can it be produced year-round, but also it is expected to make the cost of carbon neutral fuel more accessible.
It is reported that the company is trying to transform the kelp elevator for open kelp farms.
Details of the study can be found in the recently published journal renewable and sustainable energy reviews.
The original title was “effects of depth cycling on monetary uptakes and biomass producing titanium the giant kelp macrocys tispyrifera”.