Posidonia biomass mostly contains two types of compounds: (i) cellulose and hemicellulose, which are polysaccharides than can be converted into precursors for the production of second-generation biofuels; (ii) lignin, a complex and recalcitrant polymer that can be used for heat generation. We will consider different treatment methods and fractionation techniques to separate these two types of compounds. Then, using our experience in land plant biomass, we will aim to produce solid fuels and generate heat from the lignin fraction, and a stream of polysaccharide derived sugars for fermentation into liquid fuel and platform chemicals. Most of these approaches are scalable, and residues produced during these processes have the potential to be used as fertilisers.
The rationale supporting this proposal is to exploit different components of the Posidonia biomass to produce biofuels (solid and liquid) and heat, which are forms of energy with different applications.
Transformation of beached seagrass into energy will help to balance the cost associated to the harvesting of this waste biomass, and provide a new stream of revenues for the local economy. In the longer term, and because beaching of Posidonia is seasonal, this proposal can be considered as a platform for the production of sustainable and biorenewable energy using other waste biomass available in the impacted area.
The Centre for novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), based at the University of York (UK) has been using science to underpin industrial and environmental biotechnology for more than 20 years. It has a long tradition of harnessing the power of nature to solve some of the most pressing environmental, societal and industrial challenges of the 21st Century. Through the engagement in national and international projects, we have gained ample experience and expertise in the analysis and valorisation of different types of land plant biomass and of seaweeds, including plant wastes and seaweed forming blooms, for the production of bioenergy and chemicals.