Elhuyar Fundazioa - Basque Research

Elhuyar Fundazioa - Basque Research

Microalgae against CO2

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Due to the different environmental conditions on the planet, the harvesting of microalgae is not currently a totally efficient solution for the capture of CO2emissions and greenhouse effect gases, due to the fact that an optimised photobioreactor for its application at different latitudes of the planet does not exist.

The R+D FLEXIPHO project falls within this context, a project approved by the CDTI (the Centre for Industrial Technological Development) and co-financed by the European economic space (EEA-GRANTS) programme, that is developed by the XXI S.A Business Studies and Applied Engineering company (E.I.A. XXI, S.A) in collaboration with the GAIKER-IK4 Technological Centre.

The principal objective of this research, to conclude at the end of 2015, is to undertake the conceptual design of a flexible photobioreactor (PBR),optimised for harvesting different species of microalgae, in areas of low solar radiation and to capture CO2 from industrial gas emissions. This involves integrating technological advances in illumination devices and treating currents of industrial gases, using microalgae crop technology, which yields between three and five times more biomass per crop area than terrestrial plants.

GAIKER-IK4, as expert in the integrated harnessing of microalgae-sourced energy, will assess the influence of a concentrated solar radiation-powered device for enhancing performance in harnessing microalgae in conditions of low luminosity. It will also analyse the composition and the purification treatment of the gases emitted in industrial processes and their influence in the harvesting of different species. And, finally, it will apply the results obtained in two previous phases to two practical cases, where two very different species of microalgae —in their requirements and in their composition— were harvested, in order to enable evaluating both their biomass performance as well as their productivity in high-value compounds such as omega-3 fatty acids or antioxidants.

The research will conclude with the conceptual design of the PBR —the goal of this project— and with drawing up a study of the technical-economic and environmental viability of the overall process.

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