Seaweed. Photo: Nadya Peek

Will you one day be driving a seaweed-powered SUV? If researchers at Bio Architecture Lab have their way, it may actually become a reality.

The University of Washington spinout was featured this week in Scientific American, which noted that researchers at the company have “built a microbe capable of digesting (seaweed) and converting it into ethanol or other fuels or chemicals.” The latest research is featured in the recent issue of Science magazine.

The article notes that seaweed could be ideal for biofuels, since it grows in water across about two thirds of the planet. That means it doesn’t have to compete for land as do other biofuel crops such as corn. The report also cites an analysis from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which indicates that the U.S. could supply one percent of its annual gasoline needs through seaweed harvesting.

Bio Architecture Lab, which has since moved to Berkeley, Califironia, has raised about $34 million in venture funding. It is led by Daniel Trunfio who took over the CEO reins last May after working for Aventine Renewable Energy and Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum Company where he led the development and implementation of Shell’s bio-fuel strategies and operations.

Here’s the abstract from Science.

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  • MHazell

    I think it would be cool if cars and other motors were powered by seaweed. I’d like it to be shown off though before it hits the general public.

  • Guest

    Glad to see more research in biofuel, but seaweed takes a long time to grow and we’d need to harvest wisely to not have adverse effects on natural habitat surrounded by seaweed.  Ethanol is not ideal, our current mix of ethanol with pump gas uses more pump gas than if we didn’t mix it in, ethanol is great for power but not fuel mileage.

    Here’s another biofuel idea that can be done anywhere the sun shines (or fake sun shines). 

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