Biofuel Industry News

  • The algae is put through anaerobic digestion to produce biogas

Biodiesel project produces first algae crop

Aug 15 2013 Read 7385 Times

The first crop of algae that will be used to create biodiesel has been successfully grown by an EU-backed project. The project is the largest in the world that will use algae as a source of biomass and will also make use of wastewater for the process. It is hoped that low-cost biofuels will be produced from the project on a large scale.

The 'All-gas' project has successfully produced the first crop of micro-algae at its site in southern Spain. The fast-growing algae is cultivated by using the nutrients found in wastewater. Further processing allows biogas to be produced from the algae, which can then be used within biodiesel and other green fuels.

So far, the project has reportedly produced biomass that has a high energy potential, which is relative to the algae's digestibility level. For every kilogram of algae that is put through the process of anaerobic digestion, around 200-300 litres of methane gas can be produced. Through the growing process, the algae also purifies the wastewater used to grow it.

The project was launched in 2011 and is due to run for a period of five years. The pilot phase has now been completed in a smaller-scale facility - measuring around 200 square metres. A larger biomass plant is now due to be constructed in order to allow the project to expand; the final phase of the biomass project will encompass a ten-hectare area. It will be the first time such a large biomass project of this type and scale has been implemented.

It is hoped that by the year 2016, the project will have produced enough biodiesel to fuel around 200 vehicles. When the project heads into the demonstration phase, the biogas that is produced will be used as a source of fuel for school buses and waste disposal trucks throughout the region of Cadiz.

Frank Rogalla, project coordinator and FCC Aquilia's director of innovation and technology, said: "This original new approach to bioenergy means that Spain’s 40 million population could power 200,000 vehicles every year with a single toilet flush. The All-gas project is going to change the face of wastewater treatment by generating a valuable energy resource from what was previously considered undesirable waste."

 

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