The CO2ALGAEFIX project, which seeks to achieve carbon dioxide capture through microalgae cultures, has been successfully completed following four years of research and development. This ambitious project was co-funded by the Directorate General for Environment of the European Union though the Life+ programme. Its main aim was to demonstrate the feasibility of CO2 capture and bio-fixation by means of microalgae at an industrial power plant. The European Commission Monitoring Team for the CO2ALGAEFIX project, led by Filipa Ferrao, carried out its final visit to the microalgae culture plant in Arcos de la Frontera (Cadiz). The team was able to observe the prototype developed during the project, along with the numerous technical and economic breakthroughs achieved. Filipa Ferrao pointed out that, “Everything that has been learnt during these four years, including the mistakes, is important because it will serve to enhance the current state of the technology and the operation of this and other similar facilities”.
The CO2ALGAEFIX project involved the construction and operation of a microalgae culture plant on a pre-industrial scale in Arcos de la Frontera. This location has a high level of solar radiation and temperatures that promote the cultivation of these photosynthetic microorganisms. The carbon source is provided by the combustion gases from the Iberdrola Combined Cycle Power Plant (installed capacity of 1,600 MW), located alongside the microalgae plant.
The construction and operation of this plant represents a worldwide milestone, due to its size, the culture techniques implemented, and the technical and scientific objectives of the project. These included achieving a biomass output of 100 tonnes per hectare per annum, which is the equivalent of 200 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per annum.
Microalgae are photosynthetic organisms capable of converting solar energy into biomass with very high efficiency rates. In order to do so, they consume carbon dioxide as the principle nutrient and release oxygen into the atmosphere. This enables mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions whilst permitting a wide variety of products to be obtained. All these products have applications in different sectors, such as agriculture, the nutraceutical industry, cosmetics, fish farming, etc.