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Seaweed-fueled cars? Maybe one day, with help of new tech

Cars and trucks might one day run on biofuel made from seaweed with the help of two technologies being developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The two technologies are among 18 new projects receiving $22 million in funding from DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, also known as ARPA-E. The projects are under ARPA-E's Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources program, or MARINER. The program aims to create tools that enable mass production of marine biomass that can be turned into biofuel and bio-based chemicals. 

Though macroalgae — the technical term for seaweed — is primarily grown for human consumption today, it could also be used to make economically viable renewable energy without using synthetic fertilizers or the land and fresh water that's currently used for food production. DOE estimates the U.S. could produce enough macroalgae to meet about 10 percent of the nation's annual energy needs for transportation. But new technologies and innovative engineering approaches are needed to significantly increase production before cars can run on seaweed.

Read more at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)

Image: PNNL is developing two different technologies that could one day enable cars and trucks run on biofuel made from seaweed grown in the open ocean, including the kelp shown here.
Credit: NOAA


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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [605658].

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