Sewage pilot moves step closer to scaling up algae crops for biofuel
An EU-backed algae biofuel demonstration project which aims to produce commercial- scale energy from sewage has grown its first crop of biomass in a major breakthrough.
The €12M scheme, said to be the world's largest project of its type, aims to obtain low-cost biofuel from algae grown in wastewater.
The site based in Chiclana, Southern Spain, has harvested biomass with a high energy potential relative to its digestibility level.
It has a methane production capacity of around 200-300 litres of gas per kg of biomass processed by anaerobic digestion. The microalgae also allow the purification of wastewater to a high standard.
Launched in May 2011, the five-year project has already completed its pilot phase in a 200 square meter facility. A one-hectare prototype biomass facility is now under construction - the project's final phase will span 10 hectares.
It is expected that by 2016, the biofuel produced by the 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 refuse trucks in the region of Cadiz.
The All-Gas project is being led by global water operator Aqualia, in conjunction with six other EU partners including the University of Southampton.
It claims to be self-sufficient as it runs on the energy it produces and it is part of an integral water management system.
In recent years, the European Union 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.