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From sewage to algal biofuel

A €12 million project converting sewage into biofuel via algae, has been launched at a waste water treatment plant in Chiclana, southern Spain.

By Kari Williamson

Co-funded by the EU Commission's 7th Framework Programme and co-ordinated by water management company aqualia and 6 EU partners, the five-year All-Gas project will use residual nutrients in waste water as a resource for cultivating sustainable algae to produce biofuel.

Project partners

The first phase of the algal biofuel project will see the construction of a prototype plant, whereas the second phase will be scaled up to a commercial level with 10 hectares of algae cultivation.

At full scale the project could power a fleet of 400 vehicles based on a production of 3 tonnes of dry algae with an oil content of about 20% daily – half the vehicles will be powered by biodiesel, the other half by biomethane.

An additional bonus, is that the process removes waste water pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorous to feed the algae, thereby avoiding the use of chemicals to clean the water.

Frank Rogalla of aqualia, says: “We are turning an expensive environmental problem of cleaning polluted waste water, into a sustainable bioenergy source. The opportunity is such that 60 million people, roughly the UK population, would be able to power 1 million vehicles from just flushing their toilet!”

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