Biofuel: the microalgae interests the researchers more and more



Studied for several years for their many environmental benefits and production of alternative fuels, microalgae have interested more and more scientists who are also investigating their ability to absorb CO2.

While many plant species are studied and cultivated for biofuel production, these alternatives represent a threat to the environment in the long run, particularly due to intensive cultivation they imply.

Micro-algae can be cultivated in photobioreactors that control the cycling of nitrogen and phosphorus by recycling nutrients. They require few pesticides and their performance is estimated 30 times higher than the terrestrial oilseeds such as rapeseed or sunflower.

But production of biofuels is not the only use of micro-algae which interests the researchers. Their ability to absorb CO2 gas they need to multiply, has inspired many projects that aim to install production of microalgae at the doors of the industrial plants emitting more CO2.

In Germany, such products have been installed near a gas plant group E.ON and the coal plant of the RWE group. The marine microorganisms directly absorb the CO2 emitted by power plants.

Today, French researchers are working on a project matching the uptake of CO2 and production of biogas. This would be methanised biomass produced by algae, CO2 and solar energy, with other organic waste. This project, called Symbiosis, has a budget of 2.5 million euros financed to the tune of one million by the National Agency of Research.

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