Read, Debate: Engage.

EU project turns sewage into biofuel in Spain

July 06, 2013
tags:#bio-energy, #Biofuel, #European Union, #sewage, #Spain
by:Itai Lahat
The small town of Chiclana de la Frontera on the southwest tip of Spain is known mainly for its tree-lined beaches. But in recent days it has gained publicity for being home to the world's first plant to convert sewage into clean energy.

The facility uses wastewater and sunlight to produce algae-based biofuel as part of a 12 million euro ($15.7 million) project to pursue alternative energy and reduce reliance on foreign oil. This fuel in turn, will be used to run vehicles.

The project is known as All-gas, and its owner - a company named Aqualia - is the third largest private water company in the world. The company is betting that investing in environmentally friendly business will help fill the gap left by the construction downturn in the wake of the economic recession. The European Union has financed three-fifths of the project in order to test out the potential for algae power.

In order to create the fuel, the plant requires a lot of land — about 10 football fields in total — and a lot of sunshine. Chiclana de la Frontera fits the bill perfectly because of its sunny location and abundant land. Other cities in southern Spain have their eye on the project, and at least 300 other small towns have been identified that would also be ideal sites for a plant.

    "Nobody has done the transformation from wastewater to biofuel, which is a sustainable approach," said All-gas project leader Frank Rogalla. “Carbon dioxide is used to produce algae biomass, and the green sludge is transformed into gas, a clean biofuel commonly used in buses or garbage trucks because it is less polluting”.

All-gas expects the facility to be fully operational by 2015, when it aims for 3,000 kg of algae spread over 10 hectares of land to generate annual biofuel production worth 100,000 euros - that's enough biofuel to run about 200 cars or 10 city garbage trucks a year. Perhaps it does not sound much, but Rogalla is optimistic. "The opportunity is such that 40 million people, roughly the population of Spain, would be able to power 200,000 vehicles from just flushing their toilet!" he said.

Article written by:
itai portray 2
Itai Lahat
Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 00.44.03