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mei 07

Masterclass 18 May 2021 2-5pm: Biofeedstocks from ‘wetter ways of farming’: seaweed and peatlands

Introduction to the 2nd masterclass 

In this second masterclass, part of the Biomass Innovation and Strategy Course, we look into biofeedstock opportunities in wetlands and in the sea. With Jaap van Hal of the TNO Seaweed Lab we discuss how to organise a seaweed value chain for biofuels and green chemistry. With Hans Schutte from Wetlands International we discuss biofeedstock opportunities in peatland conservation or restoration areas worldwide.

Introduction to the masterclass


About 50 per cent of the photosynthesis on Earth occurs in seaweeds and microscopic algae. Seaweed cultivation does not require land and seaweeds naturally sequester carbon and could help to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification.

Theoretically, under ideal circumstances, in the Dutch part of the north sea we could make 350 PJ of seaweed available. The TNO Seaweed Lab started a dedicated research program to get familiar with the seaweed: where does which type grow, how to farm seaweed and how to transport it?

In this masterclass we discuss with Jaap van Hal the seaweed as a biofeedstock. In biorefining nutrients in seaweed can be retained but currently this process would only make sense for producing high-value bioproducts. Seaweed can also be used in biogas conversion. Take the example of the so-called ‘Sargassum Belt’ where nuisance caused by exuberant seaweed growth could provide a significant opportunity for fuel production. However, in the biogas pathway we lose the capacity to retrieve the nutrients. Should we instead think of designing small scall biorefinery systems. Can we converse seaweed into intermediate products? We discuss the seaweed case for biofuel and green chemistry.

Read the Seaweed Manifesto about how scaling up the seaweed production industry can deliver safe and healthy food, renewable biofuel, low-carbon feed, as well as how it contributes too capturing and storing carbon dioxide to limit climate change, while also creating new sources of revenue to alleviate poverty in coastal communities. 


Discussing the peatland opportunity and new value chains

Peatlands cover around 400 million hectares worldwide (around 3% of land area) and store the equivalent of 75% of atmospheric carbon – more than all other vegetation types in the world combined (they contain twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests). The points is: they need to be kept wet. It is the high water table that enables peat to form and keep the accumulated carbon stored in the soil. Unfortunately degraded peatlands are a huge source of carbon emission. The challenge is to restore peatlands. Compared with other carbon reduction technologies, peatland restoration brings significant levels of carbon savings at a moderate cost. That make the conservation and restoration in interesting case for carbon financing, creating carbon credits. With sustainable management, also called paludiculture, these wet peatlands can be a source for producing biofeedstocks. In this masterclass we try to understand what kind of novel crops suit wetter ways of farming.

With Hans Schutte strategist at Wetlands International we discuss opportunities for biomass mobilisation in peatland restoration how to structure local governance and creating public acceptance with clear environmental assessment methods.

Take a look at the IUCN UK peatland strategy as a good example of co-ordinated large-scale action to conserve and restore peatlands

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