Kelp could be used to create ginormous amounts of biofuel, says researchers, but would need to be harvested on a gigantic scale.
Brown kelp macroalgae — the strange, foul-smelling seaweed so often found washed up on the Pacific Northwest’s volcanic sand beaches — could ultimately offer an almost unlimited global supply of commercial-quality ethanol or biomethane.
“The biggest problem is that you need to produce huge quantities at low cost,” said Bakken. “In China, they harvest seaweed in a very labor intensive way, but we are looking at making that process more efficient. To [start producing] bioenergy, you need at least 2 million tons of wet weight seaweed.”