Turning algae into fuel

Sep 04, 2013
Turning algae into fuel
Credit: Shutterstock

Blue-green in colour, slimy and present in seas and fresh water worldwide - the presence of microalgae is not generally met with great excitement. But this may be about to change. A team of European scientists is on a mission to prove that microalgae can be used to produce bioethanol as a biofuel for less than EUR 0.40 a litre.

The EU-funded project DEMA ('Direct Ethanol from MicroAlgae') is focusing on cyanobacteria - a microalgae found in almost every terrestrial and , including in oceans, lakes and damp soil, and on rocks. They obtain their energy via photosynthesis.

The research team is seeking to improve biofuel production at two levels. First, the team will introduce the capacity to produce ethanol through - by altering the chemical reactions that occur within its cells so that they can produce bioethanol effectively.

The bioethanol will then be secreted by the algae and filtered from the medium through a membrane.

The DEMA team will develop and demonstrate the technology, and is confident that the process, once fine-tuned, will be superior to any other put forward so far in scientific literature.

Biofuels have the potential to significantly reduce transport's output of carbon and reduce its impact on climate change. Using to produce biofuels has many advantages over other forms of biomass: it occurs naturally and grows quickly, and as it does not grow on land, it does not compete with .

The project brings together nine partners from both academia and industry from six EU countries. It is coordinated by the University of Limerick in Ireland and has received almost EUR 5 million from the EU under the energy strand of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). The project started work in December 2012 and completes its work in May 2017.

Explore further: Cultivation of algae, mussels, common reed and microbes could help to improve the Baltic Sea's condition

More information: Project factsheet cordis.europa.eu/projects/rcn/106280_en.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microalgae could be a profitable source of biodiesel

Mar 21, 2013

Researchers at the UAB's Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC), have analysed the potential of different species of microalgae for producing biodiesel, ...

Recommended for you

Getting a jump on plant-fungal interactions

Jul 29, 2014

Fungal plant pathogens may need more flexible genomes in order to fully benefit from associating with their hosts. Transposable elements are commonly found with genes involved in symbioses.

User comments : 0