GM Algae Biofuel Hope
the UK government envisages 400 km sq of offshore seaweed farms in its long-term energy planning.
The new microbe research, published today in the leading journal Science, represents a "critical" technological breakthrough, but the challenge of making the approach commercially viable remains.
"Natural seaweed species grow very fast - 10 times faster than normal plants - and are full of sugars, but it has been very difficult to make ethanol by conventional fermentation," said Yannick Lerat, scientific director at Centre d'Etude et de Valorisation des Algues, the algae study centre in France. "So the new work is a really critical step. But scaling up processes using engineered microbes is not always easy. They also need to prove the economics work."
That popping sound you hear is the heads of some of leading Green commentators exploding as they try to work out if this is a good thing or not.