In the Ennesys Lab in Nanterre, France, researchers are working on a project to produce energy from waste water by cultivating micro-algae in order to heat water and provide heating.
Waste water contains organic pollution and this makes an ideal fertilizer for micro-algae which given the correct amount of light will flourish and grow.
Jean-Louis Kindler, Director General of Ennesys explained: “We collect waste water from this building and we dilute this water so that micro-algae can live in it and consume the pollution found in waste water. The micro-algae grows and then we separate them and produce oil and vegetable biomass which is recuperated. This oil can can be used as a fuel as we’re doing here with this lamp, to produce energy either in the form of heat, or in the form of electricity. Here, feel the heat.”
To achieve this result, the researchers have installed photobioreactors on the roof, these transparent tubes filled with what will become green fuel. Exposed to the light, the micro-algae grows very fast.
Lauren Robelin, the project director at Ennesys, said: “Before, we used centrifugal force to extract the algae but this uses a lot of energy so now we have a low-energy solution which involves electromagnets to separate the algae from the water.”
The fuel produced this way contains the same energy value as coal. And at the end, the water is the same quality as rain water. 80% of a building’s energy needs can be produced this way and the good news is that the system is carbon neutral.