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Gaiker-IK4 makes biodiesel from algae

TheGaiker-IK4 technological centre, involved in renewable energy R+D+i, amongst other lines of research, has a Bio Oil R+D+i project under way, aimed at investigating the exploitation of biofuel from algae

2011/06/06  TheGaiker-IK4 technological centre, involved in renewable energy R+D+i, amongst other lines of research, has a Bio Oil R+D+i project under way, aimed at investigating the exploitation of biofuel from algae, a field in which they have developed projects previously. The objective of Bio Oil, a project initiated in 2009 and co-financed by the Basque Government, is to develop technologies that enable taking advantage of the energy from algae in order to obtain renewable products by means of a highly sustainable and economically viable process of bio-refinery. All this based on a raw material that does not compete with the food sector market: algae.

The research is divided into 4 main groups of activity: the cultivation of algae, the extraction of the compounds that will subsequently form part of the biofuel, their transformation into biofuel, and the valuation of the remaining biomass of algae.

Work is also carried out on the modification of the metabolism of the algae, altering their nutrient diet with the aim of enhancing the quality of the lipids produced. The genetic modification enables greater efficiency in applying algae to the production of biofuel.

The main advantage of using algae compared to other raw materials, is its high capacity for growth, given that they are unicellular organisms with generation times (duplication of biomass) of between 2 and 6 hours. Gaiker-IK4 has its premises at the Zamudio Technological Park, near Bilbao in the Basque Province of Bizkaia, and with a pilot plant that enables transforming the lipids generated by these algae into biodiesel.

The biofuel market
The main market target of this project is that of transport fuel, from that for road transport vehicles to more specialised biofuels for the aeronautics and other sectors. From the market perspective, liquid biofuels have a wide range of applications and the volumes of consumption are very high indeed. Illustrative of this is the growth in global production of biofuel, which in 2000 was18.2 million m3, tripling to 64.4 million in 2008. However, this quantity represents less than 3% of the global provision of fuel for transport, leaving a lot of ground to be covered.

info:  Clara Bilbao,  bilbaoc@gaiker.es

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