The Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa’s Department of the Environment and Ceit-IK4 sign an agreement to advance research on the use of microalgae to reach environmental goals

 Aguas DipuWeb

Deputy of the Environment, José Ignacio Asensio, and Ceit-IK4’s Managing Director, José Ignacio Terrés, have signed an agreement that will allow Ceit-IK4 to continue to progress in its research on microalgae, specifically its use in treating wastewater. Researchers from Ceit-IK4’s Water and Waste Group, led by senior investigator Enrique Aymerich, will lay the groundwork for the development of a microalgae-based technology that will be capable of treating wastewater and making it available for reuse in other applications.

Microalgae are microorganisms that use sunlight as an energy source and CO2 as a source of inorganic carbon, and they consume nutrients and produce oxygen. This makes microalgae a promising option for treating wastewater and thereby reducing the burden that wastewater poses to the environment.

Deputy José Ignacio Asensio explained that his department wants to make strides toward improving the environment, promoting the circular economy and working to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Asensio added, "Within these objectives we are also interested in boosting basic research in the area of microalgae and evaluating their potential applications as a way to contribute to the circular economy and reduce CO2 emissions. For this reason, research into the technologies that use microalgae to generate by-products and decrease carbon dioxide emissions is a promising avenue.”

The collaboration between the Provincial Council and San Sebastián-based Ceit-IK4 is expected to lead to various applications. One goal of the joint effort is to investigate technologies for microalgae production, given that they make it possible to use by-products and mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2. Once the technology is developed, it can be adapted for use in treating not only municipal wastewater but also wastewater from aquaculture, agriculture, livestock and the food industry. Not only are microalgae able to remove nitrogen and phosphorus by recovering biomass, which can then be used to manufacture added value products such as fertilizers, animal feed, bioplastics and biofuels (biogas, biodiesel, bioethanol and biohydrogen), they are also able to capture CO2 and produce oxygen.

The agreement lays the foundation for this ambitious project by establishing an experimental testing platform that will facilitate the development of this innovative technology.