Producing plastic from seaweed on the Sheep’s Head

Posted on: 8th September, 2014

Category: Headlines

Contributor: West Cork People

Europe produced 57 million tonnes of plastics in 2010, with the majority being used in packaging. The production of plastics puts a strain on our already depleting fossil fuel resources and also impacts on the environment when plastics cannot biodegrade or be recycled. 

SEABIOPLAS, a project coordinated by Dr Julie Maguire in the Daithi O’Murchu Marine Research Station on Sheep’s Head Peninsula, aims to introduce sustainably cultivated seaweeds for the production of biodegradable bioplastics. 

PolyLactic Acid (PLA) produced using seaweed is a sustainable alternative to using petro-chemicals, being compostable and biodegradable. Currently, the production of non-petrochemical PLA is based on the use of important food sources for humans and animals (for example corn, wheat, sugar beets and sugar cane) and other natural resources. With the production of bioplastics expected to rise, the use of these resources will also increase and compete with food and energy production. This in turn will raise prices for biomass (plant matter used as fuel) and cause further damage to the environment.

By researching a system to sustainably grow seaweed, which is then processed to produce the lactic acid used in making PLA, SEABIOPLAS is developing a greener alternative to petrochemically-produced plastics.

Sustainably grown seaweed could become big business for Ireland. In 2010 world seaweed production was 19.9 million tonnes. Of this, Europe was only responsible for 0.4 per cent. Markets for seaweed include food, fertilisers, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and animal feed. Controlled cultivation of seaweeds allows for high traceability, management of waste, high quality and sustainability — all qualities for which Ireland has already earned an excellent reputation.

Sustainability is further increased when cultivation of seaweed is carried out in Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) systems. IMTA systems work by incorporating the waste products produced by one species into the diet of another species. Aquaculture industries such as fish farms produce phosphorus and nitrogen that are lost to the surrounding ecosystem. Seaweed is able to utilise this nitrogen and phosphorus and produce new biomass through photosynthesis, thus removing these excess nutrients from the surrounding area.

IMTA cultivated seaweed also has several other advantages over the raw materials currently used in biomass-based plastics, including a reduction of CO2 emissions, higher productivity, no risk of potential deforestation, no freshwater consumption and no fertilisers or pesticides used.

The benefits of using seaweed in this way also carry through to several other industries. After the sustainably grown seaweed has been processed for PLA, residues left can be used in a number of ways. The capacity of both the cattle sector and fish aquaculture sector to absorb seaweed by-products as new ingredients in feed is huge. The by-products could also be used to manufacture supplements and additives, most of which currently come from South East Asia.

Waste represents enormous losses of resources; however from beginning to end SEABIOPLAS is setting the environmental example of how Ireland could use its natural resources to benefit all.

For more information see www.seabioplas.eu.

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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1jc2tlH75Q
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16th February, 2018  ·  

Vikings talk in Clonakilty!

“The Viking Gold and Silver Hoards from County Cork” is the topic of the next Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage lecture on Thursday 22nd at the Parish Centre starting at 8pm.

It will be delivered by John Sheehan, senior lecturer in the Archaeology Department, UCC and a former member of the Heritage Council and the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Vikings were an important presence in Ireland for over two centuries. As well as inflicting great terror they were also responsible for introducing urbanism and new economic systems to the country.

In this talk the focus will be on the economy, looking at the gold and silver hoards that were buried in Co. Cork. It will also explore how these hoards were discovered, what happened to them, and where they are now!
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15th February, 2018  ·  

Bandon Toastmasters is a club that helps people overcome Glossophobia, a fear of public speaking. The club is holding a night of inspirational and motivational speakers on February 22 that is a must for anybody wishing to overcome this phobia.
Tickets can be purchased either on the club's facebook page or through eventbrite.

www.eventbrite.ie/e/bandon-toastmasters-presents-ignite-your-potential-tickets-41871052445?aff=es2
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