The University of Cantabria (UC) and a group of four Cantabrian and Galician firms signed an agreement to cooperate on a multidisciplinary microalgae research project that will last three years.
The primary objective of the project ‘Assistance for the development of microalgae biomass production systems based on photobioreactors’ is to develop a system that allows the production of microalgae to be optimised to produce biomass with applications in four sectors: aquaculture, energy, food and pharmaceuticals.
Participating in the signing of the agreement were researchers from the UC groups of Environmental Engineering and Ecology, and the firms Biocarburantes Bahia de Santander (Biobas); Tinamenor (tied to the aquaculture industry), of Cantabria; Jealsa Rianxeira (canning industry), and Energia de Galicia (Engasa), of Galicia.
According to Inaki Tejero, lead researcher of the project and director of the UC’s Environmental Engineering Group, “the first basic echelon will be the production of microalgae with great potential, since, in being unicellular organisms, their growth is greater, and the transformation and processing of the organic matter easier.”
"Nonetheless, the study will include the analysis of different types of algae to determine what species are ideal from the point of view of their yield and which serve for diverse applications, ” he added.
The researchers plan to design a reactor and software to produce and develop the microalgae.
They are also trying to obtain a method of production and optimal availing and increase savings in energy consumption, like carbon dioxide pick-up (CO2) by part of the algae, Energias Renovables reports.
The project will also have economic advantages, since “to achieve a reduction in costs is vital for the industrial application of the system,” indicated Fernando Rivas, one of those in charge of Biobas.
Jose Carlos Gomez Sal, vice-rector of Research and Knowledge Transfer of the University, maintained that “this is a good example of cooperative work and shows the importance of the research that UC does through their groups, as much those implicated directly in this initiative, as others related to the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (Ibbtec), which try to boost knowledge transfer.”
"The agreement will open up new possibilities for all of them,” he asserted.
By Analia Murias