Efficient way of making raw ingredient for biofuel

[2nd, May 2014]  Biochemists have begun building a one-hectare pilot unit for the production of microalgae in Portugal. The aim is to produce microalgae biomass for biodiesel production in a sustainable manner. The group of biotechnology experts… including experts of Wageningen UR. The demonstration pilot unit is part of the Integrated Sustainable Algae (InteSusAl) project in which Wageningen UR is involved. The project aims at optimising the production of algae by growing the plant-like material using standard nutrients (bio-diesel glycerol as carbon source) and through sunlight. The microalgae cultivation targets are 90-120 dry tonnes per hectare per year and it will be used for biofuel production.

According to Dr Neil Hindle, coordinator of the InteSusAl project, who contacted Digital Journal: “InteSusAl’s demonstration unit comes in a time of extreme importance to ensure Europe’s energy supply security. We are glad that the European Commission is making it possible to demonstrate this new approach to produce microalgae biomass. We hope that our results will attract attention from investors interested in financing a 10-hectare site to produce microalgae in a sustainable manner on an industrial scale.”

Dr Hindle explains that the demonstration unit will be located in the municipality of Olhão, in the Algarve region of Southern Portugal. The pilot site will be composed of a set of fermentation units, tubular photobioreactors and raceways.

Dr Hindle hopes that the sustainability of this demonstration, in terms of both economic and environmental (closed carbon loop) implications will be realized across the whole process, assessed via a robust life cycle analysis. Algae are a potentially useful natural resource because they proliferate quickly and are found in abundance. Although a bioplastic has been produced, scientists do not yet think that they have found the right type of algae for large scale production. It could be that a genetically altered algae is required.

The InteSusAl Consortium is composed of 6 partners from 4 European countries. The demonstration trials are expected to begin in October 2014. InteSusAl has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstrations.

Tim Sandle

View original article at: Efficient way of making raw ingredient for biofuel 

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