At the IESD14 (Intelligent Exploration of Semantic Data) challenge at this week’s ISWC 2014, the award was handed out to LEAPS: A Semantic Web and Linked Data Framework for the Algal Biomass Domain. The application is the work of Monika Solanki, while at the Knowledge-Based Engineering Lab at Birmingham City University in the UK.
The motivation, according to slides about the project, relates to the idea that algae biomass-based biofuels could serve as a naturally viable and sustainable energy source alternative to fossil fuels. While many companies, governments and non-profit agencies have been researching the idea, knowledge gathered exists in diverse formats and proprietary databases. What’s lacking has been a knowledge level infrastructure that is equipped with the capabilities to provide semantic grounding to the datasets for algal biomass, the slides note.
LEAPS stands for Linked Entities for Algal Plant Sites. “One of the main goals of LEAPS is to enable the stakeholders of the algal biomass domain to interactively explore, via linked data, potential algal sites and sources of their consumables across NUTS (Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics) regions in North-Western Europe,” according to a paper penned by Solanki and Johannes Skarka of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, who was responsible for the raw datasets used.
LEAPS lays out a set of ontological requirements for knowledge representation that support the publication of algal biomass data, according to Solanki’s presentation at the event. It elaborates on how four algal biomass XML datasets were transformed to their corresponding RDF model representation in distributed triple store repositories; interlinks the generated RDF datasets along spatial dimensions with other datasets on the web; and visualizes the linked datasets via an end user LOD Rest Web service.
A representative query over the datasets, federated across these various repositories, could be: Which are the algal operation sites with CO2 sources that have CO2 emissions less than 130000 kgs, where total costs of supplying CO2 is lower then 5000 GBP per ton of CO2, a real yield is greater than 30 tons per hectare and which are located within the NUTS region “UKM61”? Supplement the data with supporting information about the region. You can explore popular queries, region level search, and the LEAPS SPARQL endpoint, among other capabilities, from here.
The work was performed within the context of the EnAlgae project, an EU-effort that aims to develop sustainable technologies for algal biomass production, bioenergy and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, taking its work from pilot facilities through to market-place products and services. According to articles such as this one, however, the road to getting fuels from bacteria, algae and other means isn’t a straight-and-narrow path: Many firms that have tried so far have had to readjust their focus from fuels to other areas, or have had low visibility into profitability, due to difficulties with economic cultivation and commercial scalability of algae as a liquid fuel source.
The stated assumptions behind the datasets may help the project at large to begin to address such concerns, though, as the assessments are said to apply for large-scale microalgae production, among other factors.