- Title: ITALY: Slimy, smelly algae to help provide clean power for Venice port
- Date: 24th April 2009
- Summary: VENICE, ITALY (RECENT) (REUTERS) MAIN CANAL IN VENICE GONDOLA ROWING ACROSS CANAL RENAISSANCE BUILDINGS ALONG CANAL WATERWAY VARIOUS ALGAE COVERING STEPS
- Embargoed: 9th May 2009 13:00
- Location: Italy
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Environment / Natural World,Travel / Tourism
- Reuters ID: LVA4375KBQB6762YVHQLJI12SKY5
- Story Text: The lagoon city of Venice is prized for the unique beauty of its canals and waterways but depending on what time of year you visit it is also famed for its rather pungent smell. The seasonal stench is largely due to the slimy algae lurking below the waterline, algae experts hope to use to provide a clean power supply for the port.
Romantic canals, renaissance buildings, gondolas - the city of Venice is one of the most beautiful places in the world. But lurking below its rather green-looking waterline is a wide range of differing algae that experts want to farm in order to provide clean power for the port.
The algae at some times of the year throws out a rather strong stink and can cause problems for the ferries and boats that speed down the canals.
But the Venice port authority, working alongside the renewable energy services company Enalg, hopes to use this slimey ingredient and build the first power plant fueled by algae in Italy.
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.
"Algae multiplies incredibly quickly which is something we use in our favour," said the President of the Venice Port Authority Paolo Costa.
"They produce a huge amount of combustible energy which isn't exactly burnt up but separated and when it is exposed to a high temperature it starts up a generator that produces power," he said.
"Because algae re-produces itself constantly and very quickly this constitutes a miracle that we have to try and exploit and make it helpful for everyone," Costa said.
The Venice plant is expected to be operative in two years and produce 40 megawatts of electricity with zero emission that will help preserve the historic lagoon city's delicate ecological balance. The plant is one of three being planned in Europe and is expected to have a cost of 200 million euros ($272.6 million).
"The objective we have in mind is to be self-sufficient in terms of energy for the port, a self sufficiency which today means a consumption of 7-10 megawatt but which if we take into account the number of passengers who visit we can reach 30-35-40 (megawatt) almost the amount of the usage in the historical centre of Venice," Costa said.
"We are looking at zero emission which is one of those dreams that people working in the world of energy have been trying to achieve for a long time," Costa said proudly.
The port authority has plans to use any additional power produced to be supplied to ships docked at the harbour but their main aim is to use the smelly, slimy nuisance as a way forward to providing a clean energy supply.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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