[Mexico] Last week, the Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Chemistry ( FCQ ) of the Autonomous University of Coahuila ( UAdeC ) launched an algae biodiesel production project. The aim of this project is to transform algae biomass generated during the process of wastewater treatment into biofuel .
“Algae biomass is produced during the wastewater treatment process. Using centrifugation method, the harvested algae biomass is then converted into biodiesel,” said Dr. Jose Antonio Rodriguez de la Garza, a research professor from the Department of Biotechnology of the FCQ.
“In fact, the idea of using algal biomass for the production of biodiesel is not new. The innovation lies on coupling the two processes – wastewater treatment and algae biofuel production.”
Technically, certain microalgae consists of oil. Oil producing microalgae, in this case, Chlorella vulgaris, is grown in photobioreactors, together with domestic wastewater, and carbon dioxide. Lipid extraction and chromatography equipments are used for quantification of biodiesel.
According to the researcher, the production of microalgae biofuel as third generation biofuel has numerous advantages compared with that of first generation biofuels. Most importantly, it does not utilize fertile land for food crop production.
Challenge: Large-scale extraction
Dr. Rodriguez de la Garza also explained the “combination of both types of microalgae cultivation systems” – the low cost of open pond system and pollution-free closed system”.
Regarding the future of the project, Rodriguez de la Garza said that the next phase of this research will be focused on its industrial application, cost reduction, and process optimization. The challenge lies on the large scale extraction of lipids from algal biomass.”
Exclusively reported by Algae Wolrd News