Serbian scientists successful at turning algae into biodiesel

As the first results of a unique, three-year project show, the scientists from University of Belgrade’s Institute for Multidisciplinary Research have managed to increase the production of lipids in algae by around 30% through the method of “stressing”, which will have a great impact on the production of biodiesel in the future.

The project manager and a research consultant at the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, Ivan Spasojevic, says that, after two years of work, the Institute’s scientists produced extraordinary results, which can considerably lower the price of biodiesel globally and contribute to its use as a biological fuel, an alternative to fossil fuels.

“Microalgae have already been recognized by the largest oil companies as the future, in addition to electrical energy. The US has been investing heavily in microalgae research,” Spasojevic told Tanjug.

He adds that one of the largest American oil companies, Exxon, has been investing a lot in the research about the production of biodiesel from algae, except that those are genetically modified algae.

The Belgrade-based Institute for Multidisciplinary Research already produces oxygen from microalgae.

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The Institute has launched the project of “positive stressing” of algae with the help of sunlight and other influences, under the title of “Radiation Hormesis in the Service of Increasing Biomass Yields from Microalgae”, which has shown that algae produce good results when they are under moderate “stress”, that is, that they produce more lipids which are used in making biodiesel.

The project began in 2017, under the NATO programme “Science for Peace and Security”, in cooperation with the University of Manchester and the Baylor University in Texas, as well as the Varicon Aqua Company from Great Britain, which produces bioreactors and systems that grow microalgae.

Spasojevic says that the scientific knowledge gained through the project will be made available to everyone and that Serbia could become independent energy-wise if it started growing microalgae and producing biodiesel.

“This would have to be a production at a great volume. It would be very important if we had our own oil, that is, our own biodiesel, especially if a large global fuel crisis hits,” Spasojevic adds.

Some of the advantages of making biodiesel from microalgae are that the pools and ponds are located on the land which cannot be used for anything else, and that biomass produced from algae can also be used as animal feed.

“The project will be completed in August 2020 and we are due to have a meeting with the project partners from the USA and the UK,” Spasojevic says.

The method is now to be implemented on other types of algae and the laboratory plans to train students in this field so that Serbia could develop the relevant know-how and create field experts.

(RTS, 24.07.2019)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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