Algae crop success creates clean energy
The EU-backed All-Gas project, which aims to obtain low-cost biofuel from algae grown in wastewater, has successfully grown its first crop of algae biomass at its site in Chiclana, southern Spain.
The biomass obtained from the algae crop shows a high energy potential relative to its digestibility level, with a methane production capacity of around 200-300l of gas per kilogram of biomass processed by anaerobic digestion. The microalgae also allow the purification of wastewater to a high standard.
The five-year project, which was launched in May 2011, has completed its pilot phase (the first two years) in a 200m2 facility. Plans for a biomass plant are on schedule, and a one-hectare prototype is under construction. The project’s final phase will span ten hectares.
In terms of surface area, this will be the first time a project of this scale will be implemented in the world for the cultivation of algae into bioenergy using wastewater treatment. In New Mexico, there is a six-hectare biofuel production site but this uses artificial fertilizer, not waste nutrients. Various other installations around ten hectares do exist but use food-based crops.
It is expected that by 2016, the biofuel produced by the All-gas project will be enough to power 200 vehicles. When the project reaches its demonstration phase, the biogas produced will be used to power public buses and garbage trucks in the region of Cadiz.
Frank Rogalla, project coordinator and FCC Aqualia’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.”
In recent years, the EU has made a decisive commitment to the pursuit of new sources of clean energy. The current aim is that 20% of the energy produced in Europe will come from renewable sources by 2020. In this context, the €12M All-gas project, with EU funding of €7.1M, can be considered a global benchmark.
The All-Gas project proposes using wastewater, as well as CO2 generated in biomass boilers from residuals such as garden waste or olive pits to feed the algae, which in turn are converted into biogas. A part of the biogas is CO2, which gets separated from the biomethane and recycled.
Furthermore, this technology avoids the controversy that surrounds other biofuel projects, which are based on large-scale food crops. Food-based biofuels have been criticized for raising food prices as well as having an adverse environmental effect. The All-Gas system is also self-sufficient as it runs on the energy it produces and it is part of an integral water management system.
The All-Gas consortium is led by FCC Aqualia, and comprises five other organisations – the University of Southampton; Fraunhofer -Gesellschaft in Germany; BDI in Austria; and Feyecon y Hygear in the Netherlands.
- Northumbrian Water reveals Microbial Electrolysis Cell trials Northumbrian Water and Newcastle University have carried out the first trial of a hydrogen Microbial Electrolysis Cell... Read More >
- United Utilities trials meter reading via refuse collection United Utilities is trialling a new water metering scheme where secure readings are transmitted automatically to special... Read More >
- Areas of water industry 'ripe for new thinking' - Turquoise International Turquoise International, the energy and environment merchant bank, is calling on utilities to define their technology... Read More >
- The new approach to energy efficiency Many pump systems are far less energy efficient than they appear to be, and optimising electrical systems is the key Read More >
- Round Table: Pumps and energy Performance monitoring supported by technology and condition-based maintenance are two of the key factors in optimising... Read More >
- The Big Picture on Energy Costs Details matter when it comes to pump system energy assessments, which is why not all assessments are the same Read More >
- Interview: David Rose, Energy and Carbon Manager, South West Water "Certification has really helped staff engage with the energy agenda; I feel we've got a framework to work with." Read More >
- WWT's Water Industry Energy Conference to take place in June Water industry professionals tasked with managing and generating energy and building resilience and sustainability into... Read More >
- Supply Network Manager Location: Somerset Salary: £30,767 to £41,226 per annum Looking for your next career move in water supply? If so, we may have a fantastic... Read more here.
- Senior Analyst The Organisation The Water Industry Commission for Scotland is the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in Scotland. ... Read more here.
- Key Account Manager Key Account Manager Competitive Salary: £40,000+ DOE London and Thames Valley Knowledge, Skills & Experience Commercially astute with... Read more here.
- Contracts Manager Contracts Manager Castle Water Limited Castle Water is the leading independent water retailer in the UK, and one of the fastest growing... Read more here.
- Divisional Customer Services Director Castle Water is the leading independent water retailer in the UK, and one of the fastest growing utility supply companies, supplying services... Read more here.