July 20, 2006
Spanish Firm Claims It Can Make Oil from Plankton
MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish company claimed on Thursday to have developed a method of breeding plankton and turning the marine plants into oil, providing a potentially inexhaustible source of clean fuel.
Vehicle tests are some time away because the company, Bio Fuel Systems, has not yet tried refining the dark green coloured crude oil phytoplankton turn into, a spokesman said.
Bio Fuel Systems is a wholly Spanish firm, formed this year in eastern Spain after three years of research by scientists and engineers connected with the University of Alicante.
"Bio Fuel Systems has developed a process that converts energy, based on three elements: solar energy, photosynthesis and an electromagnetic field," it said in a press dossier.
"That process allows us to obtain biopetroleum, equivalent to that of fossil origin."
Phytoplankton, like other plants, absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. Scientists have examined the possibility of stimulating growth of the single cell plants as a means of reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
CO2, liberated by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, is widely held responsible for global warming.
Bio Fuel Systems said its new fuel would reduce CO2, was free of other contaminants like sulphur dioxide and would be cheaper than fossil oil is now.
"Our system of bioconversion is about 400 times more productive than any other plant-based system producing oil or ethanol," it said, referring to currently available biofuels made from plants like maize or oilseeds.
Bio Fuel Systems is working with scientists at the University of Alicante on the project. It has drawn up industrial plans to make the fuel and says it will be able to start continuous production in 14 to 18 months.