To avoid negative impacts on food production, novel non-food biofuel feedstocks need to be identified and utilised. One option is to utilise marine biomass, notably fast-growing, large marine ‘plants’ such as the macroalgal kelps. This paper reports on the changing composition of Laminaria digitata throughout it growth cycle as determined by new technologies. The potential of Laminaria sp. as a feedstock for biofuel production and future biorefining possibilities was assessed through proximate and ultimate analysis, initial pyrolysis rates using thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA), metals content and pyrolysis gas chromatography–mass spectrometry.
Samples harvested in March contained the lowest proportion of carbohydrate and the highest ash and alkali metal content, whereas samples harvested in July contained the highest proportions of carbohydrate, lowest alkali metals and ash content. July was therefore considered the most suitable month for harvesting kelp biomass for thermochemical conversion to biofuels.
Keywords: Algae; Bio-oil; Biorefinery; Py–GC–MS; TGA