Antarctic algae under experimentation to produce biofuel

A team of researchers at the Central University of Ecuador studies the use of Antarctic algae to produce biodiesel to serve as an alternative source of renewable energy to fossil fuel.

Scientists working at the Faculty of Chemistry in Quito, hope to use biofuelin the Ecuadorian scientific base Pedro Vicente Maldonado, located in Fort Williams point, in Greenwich Antarctic Island, to reduce the environmental impact on the white continent.

The leader of the research, Professor Ronny Flores, has visited Antarctica twice, supported by the Ecuadorian Antarctic Institute (INAE), to conduct studies of air pollution in the continent.

The researcher believes that this contamination could be strange due to the remoteness of the Antarctic territory with respect to populated areas of the world, and a consequence of the installation of scientific bases of several countries and tourist operations, reported Anepi.

Furthermore, the other continents are also exporting pollution to these distant lands via air currents.

Flores argues that algae could be used to produce fuel, which would help reduce pollution.

He explains that algae produce more vegetable oil, with which biodiesel is produced, than soybeans or corn, and when they are under stress at low temperatures and low food, they produce more oil, which would be an additional advantage.

After collecting samples of algae and making the recognition of species, different ways of cultivation were tested to ensure the survival of the specimens in conditions other than their natural habitat.

The third stage of the research is under development at the moment, which involves the extraction of vegetable oil. At this phase, students who are doing their thesis in this college are involved.

Different extraction methods are being evaluated and they are also working on the characterization of the physicochemical characteristics of the oil obtained.

If the group manages to obtain biodiesel in considerable quantities, this could prove very beneficial to control air pollution in Antarctica.


Photo: Algae in Antarctica. (Photo: Daniel Maione and Gustavo Correa)

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