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miércoles, 29 de marzo de 2017

The IFAPA and the UAL join forces to develop an algal biorefinery in Almería

Almería is pushing hard to become a national and international reference in the field of microalgae production, on the understanding that it is an activity destined to provide solutions to problems related to food, health and energy. Thus, the IFAPA (Andalusian Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training, it is an autonomous body with legal personality and own patrimony under the Andalusian Regional Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development) and the Universidad de Almería (UAL) have just signed an agreement aimed at developing a biorefinery that generates different high-value sustainable products, among them, fertilizers and additives for feed (see press release in spanish). With the sign of that agreement, which has a duration of four years, 2 M€ in scientific-technical resources for the innovation in marine aquiculture will be mobilized and about twenty people will be employed at these institutions.

Both ones have been developing an intense work on this matter during last years. On the one hand, IFAPA has a substantial bank of experience in research and knowledge transfer in the areas of aquiculture and microalgae production. In this sense, the capacities of three of its centres need highlighting: El Toruño (Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz), Agua del Pino (Cartaya, in front of the mouth of the Piedras river) and La Mojonera (Almería). On the other hand, the UAL has a research group called “Biotechnology of marine microalgae”, which is very active in the field of microalgae production and it is coordinated by the Emilio Molina.

Figure 1. Aerial view of El Toruño (extracted from the web page of the IFAPA). It is one of the centres with experience in aquaculture of the IFAPA. It has 30 ha of culture ponds.

The aforementioned mobilization of resources is related to the activities of the European project SABANA (H2020-EU.3.2.5. - Cross-cutting marine and maritime research) which is led, indeed, by the Universidad de Almería. This project aims at developing an integrated microalgae-based biorefinery for the production of biofertilizers, biostimulants, biopesticides and feed additives. It is expected that it produces 300 tons per year of microalgae and derived products. Also, it is planned the creation of a research and development centre which will be a point of cooperation and learning both for companies and researchers. I hope that I will soon be able to extend the information with a monographic post about the project.

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