The now completed SeaGas project was a three year, fully funded project (InnovateUK) to support the development of an AD process which would utilize farmed seaweed (Saccharina latissima), currently an undeveloped, non-food, sustainable resource in the UK. As a farmed resource, seaweed could potentially be used instead of land biomass to produce both bioenergy and a digestate suitable for use as fertiliser. Other advantages include that there is no requirement for either nutrients in the form of fertilisers or for fresh water for irrigation. A novel storage system for seaweed was investigated to counter variability in seaweed production, and through that support continuous 12 month operation of an AD plant. The project was innovative in its provision of a scalable, industrial AD process for seaweed. A unique UK implementation plan will be developed, directed by environmental and socio-economic assessment and economic modelling, to facilitate uptake by AD end users and initiate the building of a viable supply chain for farming and storage of seaweed. It will be the platform for further exploitation of seaweed across other applications.
As part of this project, Queen's Marine Laboratory was able to upscale seaweed production on our test site to 20 tonnes of harvested seaweed in one year, a UK record in 2018.