MED ALGAE

FTZ in collaboration with the Water Services Corporation carried out an experimental project about the production of Biodiesel from marine algae.

This project was financed primarily by the European Union ENPI-CBC MED programme. Other participants were the Malta Intelligent Energy Management Agency (MIEMA) and MCAST.

Past experiments have shown that it is possible to produce biodiesel from marine algae, so this experiment is trying to find ways to cultivate micro-algae that grow naturally in the sea around the Maltese Islands, helped of course by the favorable climate.

The experiment in which the Water Services Corporation was involved comprised of 6 open tanks and 6 photo-bioreactors which were used to grow the micro-algae. Two growing methods were compared and studied for optimal efficiency. The experiment took stock of the single-celled organism that is found only the Magħluq brackish water area of Marsascala. The algae were fed with the treated wastewater from WSC’s sewage treatment plants.

Project expert Dott. Domenico from Calabria showed how further studies are needed to explore the viability of producing biodiesel from marine algae. Growing micro-algae was not easy and fifty days are required for these organisms to mature. Constant monitoring, a continuous supply of nutrient-rich water and adequate aeration are needed for viability of the algae.

When approached for its assistance, the WSC provided premises to house the experimental facility and provided a laboratory to carry out biological tests. This corporate assistance fitted in with the WSC’s declared aim of involving itself in Water Innovation initiatives, for which a dedicated team was created.