Aqualia eyes large-scale algae biofuel production that could fuel 400 vehicles

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Aqualia eyes large-scale algae biofuel production that could fuel 400 vehicles

Greentech Lead Europe: Aqualia, a water management
company in Spain, plans to launch a commercial-scale demonstration project
using waste water to cultivate algae for biofuel production, which could fuel
400 vehicles.

Aqualia, in collaboration with European partners, has begun
construction of algae culture ponds at a waste water treatment plant in
Chiclana, northern Spain. The project will cultivate fast-growing micro-algae
by using the nutrients in waste water and converting it into biofuels like
biodiesel and biomethane which can be used in transport fuel. Each algae
culture ponds are expected to produce 500 litres of biodiesel and 1,500 cubic
meters of biomethane annually.

“Today we are wasting resources and producing
useless sludge. Now we can use it to produce biofuel and have a positive
impact,” Frank Rogalla, innovation and technology manager at Aqualia.

The project will be ramped up to commercial-scale size of
10 hectares to produce 200,000 litres of biodiesel a year and 600,000 cubic
meters of biomethane – together enough to fuel 400 cars, according to a report

European Union is backing the project with 7 million
euros, which is aiming for 10 percent of energy used in transport in the
European Union to be derived from renewable sources by 2020.

Micro-algae have benefits over first generation biofuel
crops like palm oil, sugar cane and canola. It can be grown in as little as
three days and has needs less land than other biofuel crops.

The technology may be cost competitive with fossil fuels
by about 2015 as the price of oil rises and because the nitrogen and phosphorus
the algae require to grow is freely available in waste water.

Recently, a consortium led by Aqualia, and local company
Mace received a contract to manage the sewage and water treatment system in Abu Dhabi.

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