European Commission Funds Large-Scale Bioproducts-from-Algae Project

Nine partners from seven countries have joined in a project to show that ethanol, biodiesel and bioproducts can be produced from algae on a large scale. The BIOfuel From Algae Technologies (BIOFAT) project, largely funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Program, aims to demonstrate that biofuels made from microalgae can offer energy efficiency, economic viability and environmental sustainability.

Algae's potential for providing high-energy-yield products with low greenhouse gas emissions has been long understood, but the potential downside from such development is less clear. BIOFAT seeks to maximize the benefits from algae while minimizing environmental impacts. Along the way, the project will introduce the world to the algorefinery, a facility that can produce high-value co-products in addition to biofuels.

Abengoa Bioenergia Nuevas Tecnologias (ABNT), the coordinator for BIOFAT project, is a subsidiary of Abengoa Bioenergy and began its operations in 2003. ABNT (SP) centralizes the R&D activities and is focused on the production and development of biofuels for transport, bioethanol and biodiesel, among others, which use biomass as feedstock. This project will be carried out by a transnational consortium drawn from the academic, industrial and public sectors and include the University of Florence (IT), A4F-AlgaFuel (PT), Ben-Gurion University (IL), Fotosintetica & Microbiologica (IT), Evodos (NL), AlgoSource Technologies (FR), IN SRL (IT) and Hart Energy (BE). Consortium members have been selected allowing the effective project goals achievement.

The microalgae-to-biofuel demonstration project aims to integrate the entire value chain in the production of ethanol and biodiesel. The process begins with strain selection and proceeds to biological optimization of the culture media, monitored algae cultivation, low-energy harvesting and technology integration. The development team will train on existing prototypes in Israel, Portugal and Italy, then scale up the process at a 10-hectare demonstration plant. The project is expected to last four years and produce about 900 tons of algae annually on the 10-hectare plant.


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