Their study shows that one type of marine algae that has received little attention till now - dinoflagellate microalgae - is highly suitable for cultivation with the aim of producing biodiesel.
The scientists carried out the whole production process in exterior cultures, in natural conditions, without artificial light or temperature control, in cultivation conditions with low energy costs and subject to seasonal fluctuations. Detailed analysis of all costs over 4 years gives promising results: microalgae cultures are close to producing biodiesel profitably even in uncontrolled environmental conditions.
"If we make simple adjustments to completely optimise the process, biodiesel obtained by cultivating these marine microalgae could be an option for energy supplies to towns near the sea", points out Sergio Rossi, an ICTA researcher at the UAB.
Among these adjustments, scientists highlight the possibility of reusing leftover organic pulp (the glycerol and protein pulp that is not converted into biodiesel) and using air pumps and more efficient cultivation materials.
Though similar studies have been done on other alga species, dinoflagellate microalgae have shown themselves to be a very promising group that stands out from the rest. Moreover, these microalgae are autochthonous to the Mediterranean, so they would present no environmental threat in the event of leakage.
First-generation biodiesel and bioethanol (obtained from monoculture of palm oil, sugar cane, maize, etc.) have presented problems that make them less attractive. The crops cover large areas of land and need huge amounts of fresh water, and their use implies diverting food products to the energy market.
The possibility of creating energy from hydrocarbons extracted from organisms like marine phytoplankton, the so-called third-generation biodiesel, has several advantages. Firstly, algae offer the same production levels while taking up only between 4 and 7 per cent of the area occupied by crops on land, thanks to their high concentration of energy per cell. Secondly, they do not need fresh water, as sea water is sufficient, which makes them viable even in deserts or arid areas near the coast. Finally, marine algae are not, a priori, sources of food for human consumption, which avoids the ethical problem of monoculture to provide fuel rather than food.
This study was led by scientists from the UAB's Institute of Environmental Science and Technology and involved researchers from the Department of Marine and Oceanographic Biology of the Institute of Marine Sciences of the CSIC, from the UAB spin-off Inèdit Innovació SL, in the UAB Research Park, and from the SOSTENIPRA research group, of the UAB's Department of Chemical Engineering.
Octavi López Coronado | EurekAlert!
Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging
25.10.2016 | Colorado State University
Did you know that infrared heating is an essential part of automotive manufacture?
25.10.2016 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering