Rum & Sargassum Inc. is a Barbados-based company that produces affordable, fossil-fuel free, renewable compressed natural gas to power motor vehicles, using low-cost locally sourced organic inputs including rum industry wastewater, Sargassum seaweed and Barbados Blackbelly sheep manure.
Its latest project, called SarGASsum, has two deliverables: to set up the country’s first biofuel service station, and to develop a mobile app that predicts Sargassum seaweed biomass influx patterns into the island’s exclusive economic zone.
“The Sargassum biomass prediction app represents a breakthrough in environmental monitoring and forecasting. By utilizing cutting-edge technologies and harnessing the power of data analytics, this app will revolutionize our ability to predict and mitigate the arrival of Sargassum seaweed along our shores. This invaluable tool will empower coastal communities, environmental organizations, and local authorities to plan and implement effective strategies in safeguarding our precious marine ecosystems,” said Dr. Legena Henry, the company’s CEO and Founder.
“By leveraging the potential of Sargassum-based biogas, a clean and renewable energy source, we are taking a significant step towards reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. This pilot project will demonstrate the viability and scalability of biogas as a sustainable energy solution while fostering a circular economy by utilizing organic waste materials,” added Henry, who also lectures in renewable energy at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus in Barbados.
The SarGASsum project, which will run for 18 months, is backed by a €300,000 research grant from the Harnessing Innovative Technologies to Support Resilient Settlements on the Coastal Zones of the Caribbean initiative, or HIT RESET Caribbean.
“We’re trying to encourage indigenous innovation. That’s really the key. We need to be able to solve our own problems. We need to find solutions that are novel, unique and for which we own the intellectual property,” said Dr. Graham King, UWI HIT RESET Caribbean Team Lead and Director of the UWI St Augustine Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
“We want to develop technologies that earn us income in the region, and transition our economies from commodity-based to innovation-based, harnessing the innovative capacity of the people of the region,” he added.
The HIT RESET Caribbean initiative includes concurrent projects in Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is being executed by UWI, the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency and Anton de Kom University of Suriname, with funding by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Innovation Fund and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States’ Research and Innovation Programme, through the financial contribution of the European Union.
“We are proud to have contributed to this project,” said Luca Trinchieri, Team Lead of the Green Deal Partnership in the delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Caribbean Community and The Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM).
“The project is a blend between building resilience, but also supporting economic initiative with the private sector as a key actor,” he added.