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AQUANOR: Centre Of Seaweed Technology Opens

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NORWAY - Cultivation of seaweed makes it possible to produce fuel without using food as a raw material, and without using up other natural resources. This is one of the reasons that SINTEF opened the Norwegian Centre for Seaweed Technology at AquaNor 2011.

Not only will the centre allow researchers to continue to find alternative sources of fuel, other possibilities such as the production of food and substances that bind water, biological treatment, re-establishment of seaweed culture in the fjords, soil improvement and research into drugs for medical and industrial use are all possible.

Cultivation of macroalgae respresents an interesting opportunity for resource utilisation, new sea-based products and renewable energy production, said state secretary Kristine Gramstad.

Efficiency Challenge Today, more than 15 million tons of seaweed is grown worldwide, mostly in Asia. This is used for food, feed, chemicals, medicine, health food, cosmetics and fertilisers.

"Norway has large areas that may be suitable for seaweed cultivation. But labour is more expensive here than in Asia. The main challenge therefore is the ability to grow large volumes at a low cost, and research-based knowledge is necessary to achieve this," said research director Trina Galloway at SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Ms Galloway says that SINTEF has already driven seaweed cultivation on trial basis for several years, on behalf of Norwegian industry stakeholders and with support from the Norwegian Research Council.