Researchers’ biofuel bubble of success

RESEARCHERS at the University of Sheffield have developed a technique to improve the way algae can be cultivated for biofuel.

The team is using microbubbles that can float algae particles to the surface of the water, making the harvesting process easier and saving biofuel-producing companies time and money.

The next step for Prof Will Zimmerman and colleagues in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering is to develop a pilot plant to test the system on an industrial scale.

They are already working with Tata Steel at their site in Scunthorpe, using CO2 from their flue-gas stacks.

Algae produce an oil which can be processed to create a useful biofuel as an alternative to fossil fuels. Until now, however, there has been no cost-effective method of harvesting and removing the water from the algae for it to be processed effectively.