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Venice (Italy) Seaport Eyes Algae To Fuel Energy Needs


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Bianca
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« on: June 09, 2009, 08:30:50 pm »










                                        Venice seaport eyes algae to fuel energy needs






Mar 25, 2009
ROME
(Reuters)

– Venice's seaport plans to become self-sufficient in its energy needs by building a power plant fueled by algae, in what would be the first facility of its kind in Italy, the port authority said.

The plant will be operative in two years and produce 40 megawatts of electricity, Venice's port authority said, adding that an emissions-free energy source would help preserve the historic lagoon city's delicate ecological balance.

The plant -- only the third of its kind being planned in Europe -- will be built in collaboration with renewable energy services company Enalg at a cost of 200 million euros ($272.6 million), a port authority spokeswoman said.

Several companies are in the race to find economic ways to turn algae, one of the planet's oldest life forms, into vegetable oil that can be made into biodiesel and other fuels.

In Venice, the algae will be cultivated in laboratories and put in plastic cylinders where water, carbon dioxide, and sunshine trigger photosynthesis. The resulting biomass will be treated further to produce a fuel to turn turbines.

The carbon dioxide produced in the process is to be fed back to the algae, resulting in zero emissions from the plant.

The port needs about 7 megawatts to satisfy its energy needs, so the excess energy could be supplied to ships docked at the harbor, it said.

The port is was also considering a photovoltaic park that could produce 32 megawatts of solar energy.



(Reporting by Deepa Babington, editing by Anthony Barker)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2009, 08:37:35 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2009, 08:32:24 pm »





T H I S   W A S   T H E N :








                                                 Now, Venice Is Under Attack by Giant Algae






By MARLISE SIMONS,
Special to
The New York Time

June 13, 1989



Venice is no longer sinking into the mud of its lagoon, and new sea walls are under construction to stop the tides from gnawing at its slender walls.

But the island's legendary powers of endurance are facing a new test this summer: Tons of algae, unprecedented droves of them, have sprouted up in the salty water and are threatening to suffocate the lagoon.

''This is the worst year - almost the entire lagoon is covered,'' said Antonio Castellati, the Mayor of Venice. ''Those algae are changing the whole environment.''

The Mayor, to be sure, was not speaking of the tiny leaflets that put slippery dark cuffs on Venetian jetties and bridges. The algae running amok out in the lagoon were giants, large as lettuce leaves, some of them the size of tablecloths.

''The fertilizers from the farms have also fertilized the lagoon,'' said the Mayor, offering a wry and abbreviated explanation. For 20 years, he lamented, Venice has thought only about its income from tourism and not produced a serious strategy for the environment.

Industrial, farm and household sewage from the mainland, experts say, has profoundly changed the lagoon biology and allowed the large, tough weeds to get the upper hand. Six clusters of them have even been registered by satellite.

Last month, a fleet was hastily sent to attack the algae. More than a dozen harvesters have already scooped some 40,000 tons from the shallow waters close to the town. This harvest must be tripled before August, when warmth and sunlight will induce such overload that vast rot will set in.

''It's a battle we cannot win,'' said Alberto Bernstein, an architect from Milan who is in charge of the operation. ''These algae double every 15 days.'' The goal, he said, is to remove some of the excess. That might avoid last summer's debacle, when a drive against algae started late and a carpet of rotting weeds on the lagoon sent foul vapors into the city. The froth spawned millions of tiny flies that invaded the homes and hotels of Venice and on the mainland stopped plane and train traffic for several days for lack of visibility.

Last year, as the decaying algae robbed the water of oxygen, they also killed off most other life, including crabs, mussels, fish and most other plants. Facing less competition, the more tenacious weeds have thus returned this year in greater volume.

While much of the 212-square-mile lagoon and the hundred-odd canals of Venice are meant to be cleansed by sea tides, recent studies have shown that both sea and lagoon waters are heavily polluted. Two vast chemical complexes still pour toxic material into the lagoon, though they have reduced their waste in recent years. It also receives the raw sewage and household waste of more than a million people from Venice, other islands and mainland towns.

Beyond the lagoon lies the Adriatic Sea, now one of Europe's most polluted waters and suffering its own plagues of microalgae. Last summer, algae and fishkill exasperated tourists in resorts like Ancona and Rimini, and in recent months hotels there have reported a steep drop in reservations.

This week, Rome announced a $20 million plan to start cleaning up the Adriatic, much of which will depend on dealing with industrial and urban discharge into the filthy River Po.

''Compared with the Adriatic, cleaning this lagoon may be simple,'' Mr. Bernstein said as he was showing a visitor the day's algae catch between Venice and Lido Beach. A dozen harvesters, dipping their mesh noses into the water, brought up the slithery brown and green mass. Barges were ready to ship this to sandy farmlands where the algae, rich in nutrients, would soon be mixed into the soil.

The method may be new, but algae here is not. Records say a 17th-century doge once sent 15,000 men with pitchforks to scoop algae from the lagoon.

Such familiarity may explain why it took Venice more than five years to react to the present green invasion.

''If we remove just 10 or 15 percent, we may begin to restore the balance of the habitat,'' Mr. Bernstein said. ''The algae will stay. They are part of the lagoon's environment.''
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Bianca
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2009, 08:33:55 pm »






T H I S   I S   N O W:









"It’s plentiful, it’s homegrown, and it could help clean up the environment while powering our cities.

The idea of transforming algae into a fuel is a reality.

Nowadays there are numerous implementations of algae into the renewable energy market."
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Bianca
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2009, 08:35:36 pm »











                                         Biofuel from Canal Algae to Power Venice by 2011





 
Written by Eva Pratesi
Published on March 27th, 2009



"It’s plentiful, it’s homegrown, and it could help clean up the environment while powering our cities.

The idea of transforming algae into a fuel is a reality.

Nowadays there are numerous implementations of algae into the renewable energy market."



“Sargassum muticum” and “Undaria pinnatifida” are the names of two kinds of algae brought by the ships coming from Japan and the Sargassi sea. The algea grows over the seaport of Venice, causing problems for gondolas and ferry boats. But today it could be turned into a resource.

Italy recently announced a 200 million euro eco-friendly project to harvest the prolific seaweed that lines Venice’s canals and transform it into emissions-free energy. The idea is to set up a power plant fuelled by algae, the first facility of its kind in Italy. The plant, to be built in collaboration with renewable energy services company Enalg, will be operative in two years and will produce 40 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to half of the energy required by the entire city centre of Venice.

The algae will be cultivated in laboratories and put in plastic cylinders where water, carbon dioxide, and sunshine can trigger photosynthesis. The resulting biomass will be treated further to produce a fuel to turn turbines. The carbon dioxide produced in the process will be fed back to the algae, resulting in zero emissions from the plant. “Venice could represent the beginning of a global revolution of energy and renewable resources. Our goals are to achieve the energetic self-sufficiency for the seaport and to reduce CO2 emissions, including those one produced by the docked ships”, says the president of the seaport of Venice Authority, Paolo Costa.

The idea sounds good and seems to open great possibilities for zero emission energy production; Venice could represent the first step of a real innovative evolution even if there are still some doubts about the huge amount of money required for this project and the authorization needed to built the plant.


For more information about biomass energy,
see also Solena Group.




Image credit: Kevin via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
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