Francesco Gentili

Francesco Gentili wants to grow algae in large scale as a way of solving the problems of eutrophication and emissions released to the atmosphere.

Francesco’s algae farm stops the algal bloom

Summer, sun and algal bloom. Not an unusual phenomenon, unfortunately. Francesco Gentili develops a way to counter the eutrophication of our waters, which simultaneously cleans the pollution from the air and produces biomass that can be used as a transportation fuel.

Agronomist Francesco Gentili researches how to cultivate microalgae in large-scale. Algae that could live from what would otherwise pollute nature with – wastewater and carbon dioxide from flue gases.

-We must stop the cycles. We must recycle as much as possible. Pollutants must be seen as resources. Today we release nitrogen and phosphorous into the sea which is linked to numerous and large problems.

Algae farms will kill three birds with one stone: reduce carbon dioxide emissions, treat wastewater and produce biomass.

-Algae grows faster than plants, up to 100 ton/year per hectare in dry weight. Algae are superior to plants and can be grown on land which is not economical for food plants.

In four years, Francesco has developed a pilot facility at a large cogeneration plant in Umeå. The flue gases from the cogeneration plant are diverted through the wastewater in four open dams. The algae gets heat and carbon dioxide from the gases, and nitrogen and phosphorous from the wastewater. The algae are filtered and sedimented from the liquid and can be converted, depending on the type of algae.

-We present different things. Algae with a lot of fat is suited to biodiesel for example, and algae which is rich in protein can be used for animal feed. There is a lot to develop, more and more is coming, because this is still a very underdeveloped field.

See Francesco himself talk about his research and visions in a video from UR Samtiden->external link, opens in new window

This article was originally published in RESURSexternal link, opens in new window and the writer is Olof Bergvall.

The algae pilot is in cooperation with Umeå EnergiPDF, who is also one of Cleantech Kvarken’s partners.