The Sea Green Project
Biomass from microalgae has been shown to be a viable source of low carbon biofuel for aviation. The challenge is to industrialise this process on a very large scale so that the fuel it produces can begin to make a significant contribution to global aviation fuel needs. British Airways is working with Cranfield University and with other industrial partners within the Sustainable Use of Renewable Fuels (SURF) consortium. The focus of this group is to assist in the technical, fuel quality, sustainability and commercial aspects of scale-up.
Cranfield’s Sea Green project is a near-shore ocean-based facility designed to support the sustainable production of large volumes of biomass. Using the expanse of the world’s near-shore oceans, it is designed to grow micrcoalgae at a faster rate than conventional microalgae strains, whilst capturing CO2 from the atmosphere and seas at the same time. This allows for the carbon negative production of a biomass within a sustainable facility that does not compete with agricultural land and does not require fresh water, giving the potential to provide large volumes of sustainable biomass for conversion into a number of fuels.
Initial development of this project will be land-based, through staged testing, scale-up, pilot plant and production plant construction. This would be followed by the construction of coastal facilities and eventually large floating structures on which the micro-algae would be grown that would be placed in the ocean close to shore.