Growing biofuel algae in wastewater

We call it waste, but there’s a lot of power in what we flush down the toilet. Creative designers have given us pee-powered gadgets and poo-powered vehicles, but that’s just the tip of the ice berg.

A Spanish water company called Aqualia is growing biomass in what many call the world’s largest sewage-powered algae-to-energy plant. With the first crop of algae already a success, the company claim’s the results of its All-Gas project will be enough to power 200 vehicles annually “with a single toilet flush.”

Image via Aqualia

Cities around the world spend millions each year treating and storing wastewater. Like many waste to energy projects, the All-Gas project aims to turn this unfortunate by-product of human life into something that can actually move us forward as a species.

“One of our most ambitious lines of research examines using wastewater as a key factor in obtaining biofuels,” reads the All-Gas website. “If possible, this would revolutionize the current wastewater treatment paradigm: what had, until now, been considered an undesirable by-product would become a valuable resource.”

Launched in 2011, the project aims to build a 1-hectare prototype biomass power plant where wastewater can be treated and mined for nutrients that will produce a powerful algae biomass. The microalgae also allows the purification of wastewater to a high standard, and the biomass obtained shows a high energy potential relative to its digestibility level, according to Environmental Leader.

A major complaint about biomass is that it either utilized food crops or requires the cultivation of non-food crops on land that could otherwise be used for agriculture. Algae-based biomass satisfies both of these criticisms, while also cleaning up wastewater that would have to be treated anyway.

Those working on the All-Gas project say it will be extremely helpful in reaching the European Union’s goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling

Recent Posts

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!