Koreans patent seaweed to ethanol

The Korea Institute of Industrial Technology has filed an International patent application for a method of producing biofuel using sea algae.

This is the first time I’ve attempted to read a patent and I’ve got to tell you that most of it makes no sense whatsoever. However, some of it is in plain English.

Abstract

The present invention relates to a method of producing biofuel, more specifically a method of producing biofuel comprising the steps of generating monosugars from marine algae, or from polysaccharides extracted from marine algae by treating the marine algae or the polysaccharides with a hydrolytic enzyme and/or a hydrolytic catalyst; and fermenting the monosugars using a microorganism to produce biofuel. The method of producing biofuel of the present invention solve the problem of raw material suppliance since it uses marine algae as a raw material for biomass, and reduce the production costs by excluding lignin eliminating process that has been required by the conventional method using wood-based raw materials, resulting in economic and environmental advantages.

Description of the Related Art

Compared with other type of land biomass, marine algae are growing very fast (4 – 6 harvest per year is possible in subtropic region) and easy to cultivate using wide arable area of the ocean without using high priced materials such as irrigation water, land, fertilizer, etc. Utilization of marine algae takes advantages of simple production processes for biofuel because it does not contain lignin that has to be eliminated. In addition, the amount of annual CO2 absorption ability of marine algae is 36.7 tons per ha, which is 5 – 7 times higher than that of wood-based. Therefore, if E20 (gasoline containing bioethanol by 20%) is used, the annual greenhouse gas reduction rate will be approximately 27%, which will reduce carbon tax approximately 300 billion Korean Wons, if converted into money value.

Sounds good to me as long as we don’t do the same thing to the oceans that palm oil plantations are doing to rain forests.

If you understand the technical aspects of this particular technology and can translate it into something most of us can understand you can find the patent here. Feel free to contact us with a translation.

Source: New Scientist

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