Fuel made from algae. (Photo: AlgaEnergy / FIS)
Researchers and entrepreneurs work with microalgae to produce biofuels
Friday, February 15, 2013, 23:00 (GMT + 9)
The Joint Unit for energy production through biotechnological processes created by the Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (Ciemat) and Imdea Energia will provide technical support to current and future activities of AlgaEnergy company in the area of carbohydrate recovery from microalgae.
The framework agreement signed by the three entities will last three years but may be extended biannually.
It is expected that the Joint Unit will also generate knowledge, processes and technologies for biofuels and other value-added products from photosynthetic algae.
Furthermore, it is envisaged that the society will transmit information and communications about marketing and research.
This initiative is the result of work carried out by scientists and entrepreneurs from around the world searching for fossil fuel alternatives.
At present, the production of biofuels is based on oilseed (rapeseed, soybean, palm) or sugar (sugar cane and cereals) raw materials that compete with the food sector. Thus, an interesting possibility is to obtain biofuels from microalgae farms.
Microalgae have a great advantage over other bioethanol producers -- like corn and cane:
- They grow faster;
- They develop greater productivity;
- They grow in brackish water (or even wastewater);
- They do not compete with agriculture for food, as they may be produced in areas not suitable for agriculture;
- Their productivity is the highest: 20,000 litres of production per hectare compared to 6,000 litres from sugarcane.
However, the promoters of the initiative also recognize that the cultivation of microalgae has one drawback: the continuous water supply, which limits the location of crops.
Anyway, this problem becomes a favourable possibility considering that the ground for microalgae cultivation does not require demanding conditions and can be associated with water resources from wastewater.
By Analia Murias