Basque scientists want to improve traditional microalgae cultivation methods by modifying their metabolism. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Looking for more profitable and sustainable biodiesel
Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 16:40 (GMT + 9)
A team of researchers from the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Rural Development (Neiker Tecnalia) is conducting studies with microalgae to obtain more cost effectively and environmentally sustainable biodiesel.
They hope to discover which microalgae produce more oil.
As part of the study, they will consider all stages of the production process, from cultivation to processing into biodiesel, including the use of biogas, which is obtained from the oil extraction process of residual material, reported Neiker Tecnalia.
Specialists from the National Renewable Energy Centre (CENER), Tecnalia Research & Innovation Foundation, University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), the Association for Environment and Security in Aquitania (APESA) and Agri-Resources Application and Transformation Centre (CATAR-CRITT) participate in this research, which has the support of Acciona.
Energreen project will be extended for two years with a budget of EUR 1 million, of which EUR 660,000 come from European FEDER funds.
For the researchers of Neiker Tecnalia, traditional microalgae cultivation methods can be improved by modifying their metabolism.
Metabolic regulation is aimed at microalgae producing and accumulating more lipids, that is to say, more oil.
Once this objective is achieved, scientists plan to develop new systems for oil extraction and further processing it into biodiesel using traditional chemical methods and magnetic support for enzyme immobilization.
After extracting oil from algae, there is a residual biomass which experts want to take advantage of, producing biogas through an anaerobic digestion process.
Biodiesel is biodegradable and produces no greenhouse effect, since the carbon dioxide released during combustion is absorbed by plants and trees, unlike petroleum diesel.
Energreen project is part of Operational Programme for territorial cooperation Spain-France-Andorra, whose goal is to strengthen economic and social integration in the Pyrenees area.
By Analia Murias