South West Wales

Algae could be used for fuel, Swansea University scientists say

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Media captionScientists say algae is ideally suited to turning into an oil

Algae could be regularly turned into fuel for cars and planes in the future, Swansea University scientists say.

The university is leading a project involving seven other European countries to find the best way of turning it into fuel.

Algae comes in different forms from green water on ponds to sea weeds.

EnAlgae project coordinator Dr Shaun Richardson said micro-algae - the green water on ponds - would be the most suitable to turn into fuel.

"The big driver behind the research for algae is the consideration about what we're doing to our environment," he said.

"It's the need to reduce CO2 levels and to find a more sustainable way of producing fuel, energy and products.

'Exciting field'

"We are growing it, we harvest it, take the water out of it and then you can convert it into a range of energy sources or products.

"Algae, especially micro algae, is ideally suited to turning into an oil which can then be turned into either aviation fuel for aeroplanes or a bio-diesel to power our cars."

Swansea University opened its laboratories at the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) to the public on Tuesday to see the latest work being carried out.

Dr Richardson added: "This is a great opportunity for people to come to our research facilities so they can see exactly what algal bioenergy research looks like.

"It's an exciting field to work in and the outputs of our scientific team could well benefit all our lives in the future."

Four years ago, a US airline completed the first test flight of a plane partly powered by biofuel derived from algae.

The 90-minute flight by a Continental Boeing 737-800 had one of its engines powered by a 50-50 blend of biofuel and normal aircraft fuel.

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