The water that a medium-sized plant purifies over the course of a year would allow a car to travel up to one hundred times around the earth. A consortium of companies led by Seat and Aqualia is working to make this possible, moving towards the creation of a biofuel based on treated water that would reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to those produced by gasoline cars.
Offering, from renewable energies, a response to the problems of pollution generated by traffic, especially in large urban centers, and making the most of a resource as scarce as water, are the two objectives pursued by this initiative, baptized as the LIFE project + Methamorphosis.
In order to reach the “ revolution in urban mobility and the development of the cities of the future ” that this project augurs, at the moment we are working on the idea of converting wastewater into biofuel. For this, the waters must undergo a process of fermentation, purification and enrichment ; steps after which the biogas would be ready for use.
The project aims to be able to demonstrate two systems for wastewater treatment on an industrial scale : the Umbrella prototype and the Methagro prototype. In the first case, new processes will be introduced at the ECOPARC plant in Montcada i Reixat, specifically an anaerobic membrane reactor and the Anammox ELAN system, whose bacteria eliminate nitrogen from the water. Here the biofuel will be treated and produced, which will be valued for use in vehicles.
In the case of the Methagro prototype, the works are transferred to the Porgaporcs agri-food plant, in Lleida, to try to alleviate the uncontrolled waste of slurry. Through a membrane-based system, it will try to produce biomethane that could be used directly by the transport sector or incorporated into the natural gas distribution network.
To test the results of this alternative, ecological fuel and, as its promoters emphasize, 100% Spanish, Seat cars and FCC Medioambiente cars will carry out tests of more than 120,000 kilometers in total. If these studies go as expected by the consortium, any compressed natural gas car could use it.
Financed with funds from the LIFE program of the European Union, the project brings together, in addition to Seat and Aqualia, a consortium of which, among others, the Catalan Energy Institute, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area and Gas Natural are part. Drivers have high expectations for this alternative fuel.
The advantages of biofuel are clear: from a plant that treats 10,000 cubic meters of water per day, biomethane could be obtained so that 150 cars could circulate a hundred kilometers a day. If one takes into account that Spain purifies about 4,000 cubic hectometres of water per year each year, the margin for adding vehicles that circulate without gasoline is as wide as the effects that this project can have on reducing greenhouse gases.
You can learn more and follow the news on project LIFE + Methamorphosis.