Biomethane Production from Macro-Algae

Bio-Methane Production from Macro-Algae

Researcher: Muhammad Rizwan Tabassum
T: +353 (021) 0899844863

Funding Body: Science Foundation Ireland

Programme: MaREI

Project Type: PhD

Period: Jan 2014 – Dec 2017

Project Description:

The EU mandatory 2020 target for Ireland is 16% renewable energy and algae biofuels are one of the solutions to meet this target. It represents third generation renewable biofuels and therefore, is the focus of advance research these days. Marine algae (macroalgae) have been suggested as potential and attractive future sources of renewable energy due to many advantages over lingo-cellulosic biomass. As compared to energy crops, higher growth rate, greater production yields, higher rate of carbon dioxide fixation, lack of hemicellulose and lignin, easily depolymerised structure, no arable land and no fresh water requirementfor cultivation of marine algae make them potential candidate for liquid and gaseous fuel production.


Seaweed (macroalgae) can be broadly classified as green, brown and red and each of these contain specific sugars and vary in their volatile solids content. Macroalgae, especially brown algae have been shown to be a prospective and alternative source of organic material for methane production by anaerobic digestion with high productive potential that has not yet been fully explored. Methane yields of algae biomass reported in literature vary widely due to differences in chemical composition and cell wall structure. Previous studies have revealed that methane yields are significantly influenced by algae species, growing conditions, harvest season and pre-treatment.


The aim of this project is to investigate the potential of brown seaweed as feedstock for renewable gaseous fuel production to contribute the 2020 target. Effect of seasonal variation in chemical composition of brown seaweed will also be studied. Various pre-treatment options will be employed in order to enhance biomethane production. Finally, the optimal operating parameters for continuous mono-/co-digestion of seaweeds will also be investigated. 

Environmental Research Institute

University College Cork, Lee Road, Cork