Presentation of Market-Oriented Prototype Programme from University of Salamanca. (Photo: USAL.es/Stock File/FIS)
Microalgae, ecological and useful for value-added products
Monday, November 14, 2011, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
A team of researchers from the University of Salamanca (US) found that several components of microalgae are useful for producing value added products for the pharmaceutical and the food industry apart from helping to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
According to Pedro José García Vara, members of the group of Chemical Engineering of University of Salamanca, "the idea is to absorb CO2 due to the problem of the greenhouse effect and global warming it causes."
"We have proposed the use of microalgae because they are microorganisms that have a very high potential of CO2 uptake and growth rates that are between five and six times higher than any other vegetable that is grown like corn," the scientist went on explaining to DiCYT.
This project is funded by the Market-Oriented Prototype Programme at the University of Salamanca under the University-Enterprise Knowledge Transfer Project (T-CUE).
The group designed a photo-bioreactor for farming microalgae under optimal conditions and a 'microalgal refinery' to process them and to obtain value-added products.
The process also involves making an economic analysis to see the extent of profitability this initiative will have if there is a change from this experimental model to the actual construction.
García Vara explained that the food and pharmaceutical products made from these microalgae "are 20 times higher in protein than corn or soybean and up to 400 times higher than cattle per unit of area used for that purpose."
The research, supported in the direction of this project by Eva Martin del Valle, a scientist in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Textiles, added that "microalgae research is at a very early stage and its potential could double and triple in the future."
"A lot of companies are dedicated to the world of microalgae and obtaining patents," he concluded.
By Analia Murias