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The first agricultural factory in Italy to grow algae

The first agricultural factory in Italy to grow algae

Credits: Ina

The pilot PV system has a PV capacity of 7 kW

( – Lou Algae It is considered one of the most promising products in European Blue Economy. Their conversion could revive a long list of products, from biofuels to medicines, through feed, packaging and filters. So why not encourage its cultivation by combining energy production and yield? The first system was born from this intuition Agrivoltage In Italy integrated with algae culture. The project is the result of an agreement signed in 2021 between Ennis And Enel Green Power To test the innovative mixture at the ENEA Research Center in Portici. Today the factory – renamed by name”Voltage“- done and finished and in an area of ​​about 40 square metres, it puts the two productions to good use.

“The advantages of the approach adopted are multiple“, Highlights Scarlet cancer, researcher at the ENEA Smart Grid and Energy Networks Laboratory at the Portesi Research Centre. “First of all, algae allows us to exploit energy from the sun better than conventional crops because they have greater photosynthesis efficiency; Moreover, they are of high environmental value because they consume carbon dioxide, convert it into biomass through photosynthesis and release pure oxygen into the atmosphere. Not least are the practical aspects, such as the fact that the technological solution developed is also suitable for “retrofit” interventions of existing PV systems.

Economic value of algae

The first European Algae Awareness Summit was held in Paris from 5 to 7 October this year. An event created to raise awareness among administrations of EU Member States and the general public about the benefits that the cultivation of these organisms can bring to national and regional economies, to people and to the regeneration of the oceans. On the other hand today the European Union One of the largest importers of seaweed products all over the world. It is estimated that societal demand will reach 8 million tons in 2030, with a value of €9 billion in 2030.

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A forecast that is not too surprising if we take into account the contribution that algae farming can make to the EU goals of decarbonisation, anti-pollution, recycling, and biodiversity conservation and restoration. In fact, algae can replace products of fossil origin and serve as raw material for plant biostimulants, biofuels, sustainable food and feed, pharmaceutical and nutritional products, plant biostimulants, packaging of biological origin, cosmetics and other bio-based products.

Relationship “Food from the oceans“, published by the European Commission’s High-Level Scientific Advice Mechanism in 2017, indicates that marine algae have the potential to meet the expected demand for more than 100 million tonnes of additional biomass for human consumption over the next 20 years. The situation for European crops is therefore in Order is essential, but it is also essential to create synergy where and when possible

How does the voltage system work??

The electrical system, which was just completed at the Portici Centre, remains intact 7 kW of solar panelssingle and double sided, with Tubular glass photobioreactors. The latter contains an aqueous suspension of microalgae that flows inward. The tubes are placed under the PV modules, and are organized in two parallel vertical arrays connected to each other to create a continuous coil in which the solution circulates. When the microalgae reaches the desired density and maturity, it is collected using a powerful centrifuge that separates it from the water.

Since sunlight is essential for the growth of these organisms, the project studied a specific scheme for integration with photovoltaics in order to ensure the best results in terms of algae production. The experiment began last September, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture of the University of Naples Federico II, and researchers estimate a number Annual production is about 30 kilograms of algae (dry weight).

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