In order to take advantage of the sargassum accumulated on the coasts of Yucatan and the Mexican Caribbean, researchers from the Renewable Energy Unit of the Yucatan Scientific Research Center (CICY) developed a technology to produce biogas using these macroalgae, a fungus of the region and a bacterial inoculum. Dr. Raúl Tapia Tussel, researcher of this CICY unit, explained that this initiative began just over a year ago and that it was carried out under a multidisciplinary scheme.
Tapia Tussel pointed out that the biogas obtained from the sargasso can be used, due to its characteristics, even as fuel for vehicles. For this, its performance must be previously trialed in prototypes.
The researcher announced that the process for gas production consists, first, in collecting the sargassum on the beach, removing the sand and salt, then dehydrating it to put it in contact with the fungus (Trametes hirsuta), a local microorganism isolated from rotting wood that is capable of degrading lignin in these algae. During the process, this fungus breaks the walls of macroalgal structures, to expose compounds such as cellulose and unicellulose, which will later pass to a reactor in which, with the help of climatic conditions and an inoculum (bacterial consortium), the sargassum will turn into methane.
He also stated that the project has been carried out at a laboratory level and that now they will scale the study to a greater volume. “At the laboratory level we have obtained about 104 liters of gas per kilogram of volatile solid of sargassum, compounds already degraded, we have a higher fuel efficiency with the pre-treatment of the Trametes hirsuta fungus of up to 30%”, added Tapia Tussel.
Biogas and biomethane, as sources of clean and renewable fuels, will be addressed at AltFuels Mexico 2019 on 11-14 March 2019, at the World Trade Center in Mexico City. The event will feature first level conferences and exhibition led by national and international experts and companies that will share their experiences and knowledge with visitors and showcase the latest in alternative fuel technologies.