Project description:Seaweeds (macroalgae) have been recently attracting more and more interest as a third generation feedstock for bioenergy and biofuels. However, several barriers impede the deployment of competitive seaweed-based energy. The high cost associated to seaweed farming and harvesting, as well as their seasonal availability and biochemical composition currently make macroalgae exploitation too expensive for energy production only. Recent studies have indicated a possible solution to aforementioned challenges may lay in seaweed integrated biorefinery, in which a bioenergy and/or biofuel production step ends an extractions cascade of high-value bioproducts. This results in the double benefit of producing renewable energy while adopting a zero waste approach, as fostered by recent EU societal challenges within the context of the Circular Economy development. This study investigates the biogas potential of residues from six indigenous Irish seaweed species while discussing related issues experienced during fermentation. It was found that Laminaria and Fucus spp. are the most promising seaweed species for biogas production following biorefinery extractions producing 187-195 mL CH4 gVS-1 and about 100 mL CH4 gVS-1 , respectively, exhibiting overall actual yields close to raw un-extracted seaweed.
Project description:Intensive cultivation of freshwater macroalgae is likely to increase with the development of an algal biofuels industry and algal bioremediation. However, target freshwater macroalgae species suitable for large-scale intensive cultivation have not yet been identified. Therefore, as a first step to identifying target species, we compared the productivity, growth and biochemical composition of three species representative of key freshwater macroalgae genera across a range of cultivation conditions. We then selected a primary target species and assessed its competitive ability against other species over a range of stocking densities. Oedogonium had the highest productivity (8.0 g ash free dry weight m?² day?¹), lowest ash content (3-8%), lowest water content (fresh weigh: dry weight ratio of 3.4), highest carbon content (45%) and highest bioenergy potential (higher heating value 20 MJ/kg) compared to Cladophora and Spirogyra. The higher productivity of Oedogonium relative to Cladophora and Spirogyra was consistent when algae were cultured with and without the addition of CO? across three aeration treatments. Therefore, Oedogonium was selected as our primary target species. The competitive ability of Oedogonium was assessed by growing it in bi-cultures and polycultures with Cladophora and Spirogyra over a range of stocking densities. Cultures were initially stocked with equal proportions of each species, but after three weeks of growth the proportion of Oedogonium had increased to at least 96% (±7 S.E.) in Oedogonium-Spirogyra bi-cultures, 86% (±16 S.E.) in Oedogonium-Cladophora bi-cultures and 82% (±18 S.E.) in polycultures. The high productivity, bioenergy potential and competitive dominance of Oedogonium make this species an ideal freshwater macroalgal target for large-scale production and a valuable biomass source for bioenergy applications. These results demonstrate that freshwater macroalgae are thus far an under-utilised feedstock with much potential for biomass applications.
Project description:The energy, mining and mineral processing industries are point sources of metal-contaminated waste water and carbon dioxide (CO2). Freshwater macroalgae from the genus Oedogonium can be grown in metal-contaminated waste water to generate biomass for bioenergy applications and concomitantly bioremediate metals. However, interactions between CO2 addition and algal growth, which can affect bioremediation, remain untested. The addition of CO2 to algal cultures in the Ash Dam Water (ADW) from a coal-fired power station increased the biomass productivity of Oedogonium sp. from 6.8 g dry weight (DW) m(-2) d(-1) to a maximum of 22.5 g DW m(-2) d(-1). The greater productivity increased the rate of bioremediation of most elements. However, over time carbon-amended cultures experienced a decline in productivity. Possible explanations include metal toxicity at low pH or essential trace element limitation as a result of competition between toxic and essential trace elements for uptake into algae. Higher productivity increased bioremediation rate and yielded more biomass for bioenergy applications, making maintenance of maximum productivity the central aim of the integrated culture model. To do so it will be necessary to resolve the mechanisms responsible for declining yields over time in carbon-amended cultures. Regardless, our data demonstrate that freshwater macroalgae are ideal candidates for bioremediation of metal-contaminated waste streams. Algal culture delivered significant improvement in ADW quality, reducing 5 elements that were initially in excess of water quality criteria (Al, As, Cd, Ni and Zn) to meet guidelines within two to four weeks.
Project description:In the United States, policy initiatives aimed at increasing sources of renewable energy are advancing bioenergy production, especially in the Midwest region, where agricultural landscapes dominate. While policy directives are focused on renewable fuel production, biodiversity and ecosystem services will be impacted by the land-use changes required to meet production targets. Using data from field observations, we developed empirical models for predicting abundance, diversity, and community composition of flower-visiting bees based on land cover. We used these models to explore how bees might respond under two contrasting bioenergy scenarios: annual bioenergy crop production and perennial grassland bioenergy production. In the two scenarios, 600,000 ha of marginal annual crop land or marginal grassland were converted to perennial grassland or annual row crop bioenergy production, respectively. Model projections indicate that expansion of annual bioenergy crop production at this scale will reduce bee abundance by 0 to 71%, and bee diversity by 0 to 28%, depending on location. In contrast, converting annual crops on marginal soil to perennial grasslands could increase bee abundance from 0 to 600% and increase bee diversity between 0 and 53%. Our analysis of bee community composition suggested a similar pattern, with bee communities becoming less diverse under annual bioenergy crop production, whereas bee composition transitioned towards a more diverse community dominated by wild bees under perennial bioenergy crop production. Models, like those employed here, suggest that bioenergy policies have important consequences for pollinator conservation.
Project description:Biodiversity experiments show that increases in plant diversity can lead to greater biomass production, and some researchers suggest that high diversity plantings should be used for bioenergy production. However, many methods used in past biodiversity experiments are impractical for bioenergy plantings. For example, biodiversity experiments often use intensive management such as hand weeding to maintain low diversity plantings and exclude unplanted species, but this would not be done for bioenergy plantings. Also, biodiversity experiments generally use high seeding densities that would be too expensive for bioenergy plantings. Here we report the effects of biodiversity on biomass production from two studies of more realistic bioenergy crop plantings in southern Michigan, USA. One study involved comparing production between switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) monocultures and species-rich prairie plantings on private farm fields that were managed similarly to bioenergy plantings. The other study was an experiment where switchgrass was planted in monoculture and in combination with increasingly species-rich native prairie mixtures. Overall, we found that bioenergy plantings with higher species richness did not produce more biomass than switchgrass monocultures. The lack of a positive relationship between planted species richness and production in our studies may be due to several factors. Non-planted species (weeds) were not removed from our studies and these non-planted species may have competed with planted species and also prevented realized species richness from equaling planted species richness. Also, we found that low seeding density of individual species limited the biomass production of these individual species. Production in future bioenergy plantings with high species richness may be increased by using a high density of inexpensive seed from switchgrass and other highly productive species, and future efforts to translate the results of biodiversity experiments to bioenergy plantings should consider the role of seeding density.
Project description:This study aimed to evaluate the effects of twenty species of tropical macroalgae on in vitro fermentation parameters, total gas production (TGP) and methane (CH4) production when incubated in rumen fluid from cattle fed a low quality roughage diet. Primary biochemical parameters of macroalgae were characterized and included proximate, elemental, and fatty acid (FAME) analysis. Macroalgae and the control, decorticated cottonseed meal (DCS), were incubated in vitro for 72 h, where gas production was continuously monitored. Post-fermentation parameters, including CH4 production, pH, ammonia, apparent organic matter degradability (OMd), and volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations were measured. All species of macroalgae had lower TGP and CH4 production than DCS. Dictyota and Asparagopsis had the strongest effects, inhibiting TGP by 53.2% and 61.8%, and CH4 production by 92.2% and 98.9% after 72 h, respectively. Both species also resulted in the lowest total VFA concentration, and the highest molar concentration of propionate among all species analysed, indicating that anaerobic fermentation was affected. Overall, there were no strong relationships between TGP or CH4 production and the >70 biochemical parameters analysed. However, zinc concentrations >0.10 g x kg(-1) may potentially interact with other biochemical components to influence TGP and CH4 production. The lack of relationship between the primary biochemistry of species and gas parameters suggests that significant decreases in TGP and CH4 production are associated with secondary metabolites produced by effective macroalgae. The most effective species, Asparagopsis, offers the most promising alternative for mitigation of enteric CH4 emissions.