Microalgae production. (Photo: Universidad de Almeria/FIS)
Microalgae used to absorb CO2 and produce biofuels
Friday, November 25, 2011, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
The electricity company Endesa is working on the development of a system to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) using microalgae to reduce industrial emissions and to produce biofuels.
The company accomplishes this initiative through a research, development and innovation (R+D +I) process funded by the Technological Corporation of Andalusia (CTA).
The project, entitled 'Value CO2', has been joined by Microalgae Biotechnology research group from the University of Almería.
The researchers aim to optimize the growth of microalgae with new farming strategies and to develop the concept of biorefineries to produce biodiesel, bio-fertilizers and other products.
As reported by CTA in a press release, microalgae have many advantages over oilseeds (rapeseed, sunflower and olive) because they have a greater capacity to absorb CO2 and to produce biofuels.
In addition, microalgae do not need high quality fields or water to grow and they do not consume resources that can be used in agriculture.
The project is developed in a pilot plant that the company installed at its headquarters in Carboneras, Almería.
According to Endesa, about 30,000 kilos of CO2 per year will be captured, a figure that is equivalent to that absorbed by nearly fifty trees.
In this plant, microalgae are grown with the CO2 produced by the centre through photosynthesis, using sunlight and carbon dioxide to obtain carbohydrates, hydrogen and oxygen.
The chosen marine microalgae are Nannochloropsis gaditana and to achieve farming optimization, scientists develop technologies applied to photo-bioreactors (intensive microalgae farming system).
In addition, Endesa will carry out further investigation to improve the performance of harvesting techniques by searching for a harvesting method that reduces costs.
Endesa plant -- the largest of its kind in Europe -- occupies about 500 square metres and at the end of this year it will have another 1,000 square metres.
By Analia Murias