The effect of mechanical pre-processing and different drying methodologies on bioethanol production using the brown macroalgae Laminaria digitata ((Hudson) JV Lamouroux)

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2463-2469
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number5
Early online date14 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2017
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Macroalgae are capable of generating more organic carbon per hectare than terrestrial plants without requiring land, fertiliser or fresh water to grow. In addition, they avoid the food versus fuel argument as they are not a major food source in Europe. In spite of these benefits, macroalgae are not yet fully exploited as a biomass source for bioenergy or platform chemical production in Europe, with one issue being the high harvesting and processing costs. This paper considers the impact of mechanical pre-processing of Laminaria digitata combined with different drying techniques and the effect of these on downstream processing to bioethanol. Results show that mechanically screw pressing macroalgae does enhance conversion to ethanol, but only when the material contains low levels of storage carbohydrates. This occurs in freeze-dried and air-dried samples. The addition of a press aid in the mechanical pre-processing step increases ethanol yields per gramme macroalgae, but due to the presence of the unutilised press aid in the fermentation, ethanol yields were lower overall. The two main findings from this work were (1) simple mechanical processing of L. digitata provides homogenisation and pumpability of macroalgae without negatively affecting subsequent microbial conversion to ethanol. (2) At higher carbohydrate concentrations, screw pressing confers no advantage in ethanol yields over strips of unprocessed kelp, making strips the more viable conversion option for low-input, large-scale processing


  • blue biotechnology, biorefining, drying, kelp, screw press, seaweed, phaeophyceae