European researchers have managed to produce enough fuel to drive a car by processing seaweed sugars.
Seaweed fuel is called a third-generation biofuel, presented as greener than previous biofuels made out of vegetables, agricultural residues or waste, as it requires fewer resources.
But according to the Dutch expert Jaap Van Haal, scientific coordinator of the MacroFuels European research project, it may take a couple of decades for seaweed to be competitive at a large scale.
"There are several good reasons to use seaweeds. First of all 70% of our planet is covered by sea, and we don't use the sea much to produce food or materials."
"Secondly, seaweed needs only the water, sunlight, and a nutrient presence to grow very fast, and we need all the sustainable raw materials to reach our sustainability goals in 2050."
"Ethanol and Butanol are currently produced from a variety of sugars, and seaweeds contain many that can be converted into butanol and ethanol."
"We have demonstrated that is technically possible to produce enough fuels from seaweed to drive a car on it. However, as in (based on the example of the) wind (sector), it is a 25 to 30-year development track to get it down by a factor of 100 per cent.
Now, biofuel is very expensive. With economies of scale and further technical development, we think we can bring (its price) down by a factor 100 per cent."