Fuel solution for seaweed trouble in Alicante

SEAWEED REMOVAL: Laborious collection could soon be phased out.

INGENIOUS scientists looking for an eco friendly way of dealing with seaweed-strewn beaches are processing it ready to turn into bio fuel. They have developed a machine to wash, dry and compress seaweed into fuel pellets right on the beach.

The 2,000 tonnes of seaweed washed up overnight at Playa de San Juan recently has highlighted the difficulties faced by local councils on a regular basis.

Councils hastily remove the seaweed conscious that pristine beaches are vital to tourism. Once collected it can be processed for fertiliser, but seaweed contains more ethanol than corn and is increasingly used for biofuel and biomass. 

Transporting, de-salting and drying it have until now been challenging, but Alicante University investigators have devised a system to eliminate all these problems.

A trailer containing three linked hoppers is fed seaweed as it moves along the beach.  Pumped-in seawater removes the sand before the seaweed progresses to the second hopper where a solar-powered device rinses out the salt content.

It then moves on to a third hopper where it is dried by another piece of solar-powered equipment, and then it is compressed into biomass pellets or blocks for use in power plants.

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