Hace poco nos hacíamos eco de la posibilidad de crear biocombustible para aviones mediante plantas desérticas, y hoy es el turno de las microalgas. Estos microorganismos fotosintéticos son capaces de capturar el CO2 con una alta eficiencia para producir biomasa, y el Instituto Tecnológico Agroalimentario de Valencia e Iberdola Ingeniería han desarrollado una técnica revolucionaria de bioproducción de microalgas y captura del gas contaminante.

La nueva técnica descubierta consiste en la captura del CO2 procedente de humos contaminantes para utilizarlo como alimento en los cultivos de microalgas, que tienen la propiedad de transformar sustancias y aguas residuales en biomasa útil, además de contener una gran variedad de compuestos. Durante el segundo año del proyecto CENIT VIDA, donde se enmarca el descubrimiento, ya se implementaron los primeros fotobiorreactores de microalgas, con los que cultivar de forma controlada y más eficiente estas plantas alimentándolas con agua, nitrógeno, dióxido de carbono (CO2) y luz.

Ahora, gracias al desarrollo de sistemas de bioproducción de microalgas más eficientes, es posible minimizar sus costes y facilitar el uso industrial de este producto en sus múltiples aplicaciones. Y es que con estos equipos basados en intensificadores lumínicos y térmicos es posible alcanzar mayores rendimientos a menor coste y con mayor rentabilidad para las explotaciones de microalgas.

Con el nuevo sistema se captura el CO2 de humos contaminantes a través de un dispositivo diseñado expresamente para este proyecto y, tras purificarlo, se utiliza para para alimentar cultivos de microalgas. El sistema de captura selectiva de CO2 es de última generación, capaz de alcanzar purezas de hasta el 95%. Para lograrlo, se simularon a escala piloto gases de combustión para estudiar diferentes opciones de captura y concentración de CO2 y, tras tres años de estudios, los resultados son el éxito experimental de este proyecto, que ha creado el conocimiento necesario para posibilitar su aplicación a la realidad empresarial.

Este proyecto supone un paso muy importante para la investigación en el campo de las microalgas, ya  que actualmente son plantas muy relevantes por su uso energético y por contener gran variedad de compuestos de valor en el mercado, como proteínas, espesantes, vitaminas, enzimas, antibióticos, cosméticos, productos farmacéuticos o productos químicos.

La búsqueda de la biociudad con microalgas

Estas investigaciones son parte de los estudios clave realizados para el proyecto CENIT VIDA, una iniciativa de I+D+i encabezada por la filial eléctrica en la que participan 13 empresas y 25 organismos de investigación. El programa cuenta con el apoyo del Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad y ha sido subvencionado por CDTI, y es una iniciativa científica y tecnológica que busca crear un nuevo concepto de Biociudad Autosuficiente y Sostenible (BioCAS), aplicando al entorno urbano una nueva cultura en la que se aprovechen los recursos naturales, los residuos y las sustancias contaminantes.

Así, este proyecto pretende contribuir al concepto de ciudad sostenible en el que las microalgas, además de ser utilizadas como fuente de energía limpia y renovable, también lo sean como materia prima para el abastecimiento de las necesidades básicas de los habitantes.

Imagen | Ainia

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