Using Sewage To Grow Algae To Produce Biofuel

A plant at the southern tip of Spain is the first to purposely cultivate algae from wastewater in order to create clean gas for garbage trucks and other vehicles.

What's the Latest Development?

The Spanish resort town of Chiclana de la Frontera can now lay claim to the world's first municipal sewage plant that purposely uses wastewater to grow algae that is then converted into clean biofuel. Carbon dioxide from sewage produces the algae, the first crop of which was harvested last month. The resulting biomass will be made into vehicle fuel, which should be ready for use by December. Right now the plant is still in a pilot stage and fairly small, but plans are to have it fully operational by 2015, growing enough algae and producing enough fuel to run about 200 cars a year.

What's the Big Idea?

Plants in other industries have generated biogas from wastewater for internal use, but All-gas is the first to systematically cultivate algae from sewage to create a fuel for outside use. The plant is reported to be much cheaper to build and run than a conventional sewage plant, which is good news in a country that's been hard hit by the European financial crisis. It remains to be seen whether All-gas will be able to provide fuel on a large scale, but other small towns in Spain have expressed interest in building similar plants.

Photo Credit:

Read it at Scientific American

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less