Algae is going to save us. The oil it produces contains Omega-3 *and* functions as a clean fuel for vehicles and machines.

Las algas nos va salvar. El aceite que producen contiene Omega-3 *y* funciona como un combustible limpio para vehículos y máquinas.

by Tracy Rucinski
26 Jun 13
[thanks to for the find]

A Spanish resort town with sprawling golf courses and tree-lined beaches has added another green site to its attractions: the world's first plant to convert sewage into clean energy.

The facility in Chiclana de la Frontera on the southwest tip of Spain uses wastewater and sunlight to produce algae-based biofuel as part of a 12 million euro ($15.7 million) project to pursue alternative energies and reduce reliance on foreign oil.

The use of algae for biomass, once touted by U.S. President Barack Obama as the fuel of the future, has been written off by some critics who say the large quantities of energy, water and chemicals needed to produce it makes the process unsustainable.

The project in Chiclana, called All-gas to sound like "algas" or seaweed in Spanish, seeks to prove otherwise, becoming the first municipal wastewater plant using cultivated algae as a source for biofuel.

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.

While energy efficiency projects have gained pace in other European countries, Spain has been held back by a yawning budget gap that was at the centre of concerns the country would need an international bailout last year.

The All-gas project is three-fifths financed by the European Union FP7 programme to determine the effectiveness of the methane produced from algae-derived biomass in cars and trucks.

The Chiclana plant, still in a pilot phase and 200 square metres in size, harvested its first crop of algae last month and expects to fuel its first car by December.

Spain is battling a record 27 percent unemployment rate, with the south worst affected, and cash-strapped consumers have struggled under the weight of wage cuts and tax hikes over the past two years aimed at reining in the public deficit.

The All-gas model has drawn interest from other efficiency-minded municipalities in southern Spain with populations between 20,000 and 100,000 and with enough land to develop the algal ponds, said Rogalla, who has identified at least 300 small towns where such projects could work.

"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.