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Microalgae as a source of alternative energy

In concrete, the mass production of microalgae could meet this demand given that it does not compete with the food sector, does not require large surface areas nor fertile terrain and maximises water savings (closed cycle) for their production. At the same time, it contributes to environmental enhancement with CO2 capture and can be integrated into the use of saline industrial effluents.

The Energy Unit at Tecnalia is researching the potential of mass production of microalgae as a crop, working on the selection of stocks, the optimisation of crop production systems (open, closed and mixed), as well as the optimisation of various operation variables in the harvesting and final treatment of the microalgae for their transformation into energy. At the same time, the synergic aspects of the process are being studied, such a the capture of CO2 as a nutrient for the algae, the use of saline industrial effluents and the valuation of sub-products.

Microalgae and its viability as a source of energy from biomass for energy use or by transformation into biofuels, is a field still in the research stage but with interesting perspectives for the future. For the moment, the complete process has not yet been sufficiently developed at an industrial level to be exploited by industries in the sector and the viability of its application has not been adequately demonstrated despite certain publicity by companies without any technological foundation. More exhaustive studies are required and the crop has to be planted on a large scale in order to explore the viability in the domain of energy. For the moment, research is focused on developing viable processes and evaluating possible applications of interest to the industrial sector.

by S. C.
10 july 2009, Technical Area > Science News