Energy / Climate Change

October 7, 2010


Tohoku University Develops Efficient Seaweed Ethanol Production Technology

Keywords: Renewable Energy University / Research institute 

Tohoku University announced on July 14, 2010, that it has developed a technology to efficiently generate ethanol from seaweed, in cooperation with Tohoku Electric Power Co.

The search for alternative energy sources is becoming more urgent because fossil fuels, on which modern society is dependent, not only emit carbon dioxide (CO2) that causes global warming, but will likely run out in the near future. Bioethanol produced from food resources such as corn or soybeans is a potential alternative, but may cause high food prices. Therefore, development of technologies to produce bioethanol from non-food biomass is necessary.

Brown algae comprise a type of macro marine plant that grows in coastal areas around the world and can be harvested in large amounts from the ocean, where it covers areas comparable to those of the rain forests. While seaweed is still expected to become an alternative food resource, ethanol production from seaweed was previously thought to be difficult due to the large difference in structural components between marine and land plants.

However, researchers have found that new technologies that can efficiently generate bioethanol from seaweed with lower energy consumption by using brown algae instead of conventional food resources. Moreover, these technologies hold the potential to contribute to energy problems worldwide because they can be applied to other types of seaweed.

Joint Research to Develop Cellulose Bio-Ethanol by 2015(Related JFS article)

Tohoku University official website

Posted: 2010/10/07 06:00:15 AM