César Sáez, a Catholic University Engineering School professor presented the results of the first Chilean tests of microalgal biodiesel in high-powered engines. Photo: Catholic University

Fis.com reports that the first Chilean tests of microalgae biodiesel in high-powered diesel engines show that a reduction of gases emissions and particulate matter of up to 80 per cent can be achieved in engines like those used by Trans-Santiago buses and trucks.

The measurements were carried out within the framework of a research project of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Bioprocesses of the Catholic University (CU) together with experts of Automotive Mechanics of the Duoc UC and a group of thesis developers of the Laboratory of Renewable Energies and Residues of the CU Engineering School.

In the tests carried out on diesel engines, microalgae proved to be a technically feasible alternative to reduce pollutants on Trans-Santiago buses as well as heavy vehicles. Considering the renewable nature of the biofuels, the researchers also decided to produce biodiesel from oils used for frying food.

“Our current challenge is to achieve an effective scaling of microalgae production technology for this and other purposes. That is what we are working on,” said César Sáez, a CU Engineering School professor leading the project. “The use of microalgae as a source of renewable fuels in Chile is only hampered by the lack of development of large-scale and very low-cost harvesting systems that use little water and energy.”

To the researchers, the use of microalgae constitutes an enormous potential for the country, due to the great variety of freshwater and saltwater species that exist in natural environments in Chile.

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