European Parliament hosts EnAlgae project showcase
Months of planning finally came to an end recently when the EnAlgae team held their European Parliamentary showcase in Brussels. Project staff from the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium brought with them posters, algae products and portable photo-bioreactors in order to bring the project to life for their 30 invited guests. For project director, Dr Shaun Richardson, the event was an important opportunity to engage with politicians at the highest level and tell them about EnAlgae and what we are achieving.
Showcase event organisers were thrilled to be able to welcome five MEPs from different countries and parties to the event in Brussels. Kay Swinburne joined fellow Welsh MEP Derek Vaughan who was co-hosting the event along with South East England MEP Richard Ashworth. Timothy Kirkhope from Yorshire and Dutch MEP Lambert Van Nistlerooij were also among the guests. Following the event, Mr Vaughan commented that the EnAlgae project is an excellent example of how EU funding is being used in innovative ways to develop sustainable energy sources.
The subject up for discussion at the latest EnAlgae workshop was the benefits and risks of sustainable seaweed production. Participants debated the issues and that led to a number of outcomes. These included the view that cultivation of seaweed will not replace wild harvesting as long as the prices for seaweed remain on a low level, and that the potential for commercial seaweed production is constrained by the lack of possible sites. It was also felt, however, that the seaweed business can offer additional income and autonomous employment for fishermen and does not require high qualification.
Pupils from two schools in the West Flanders area of Belgium had the opportunity to accompany EnAlgae researchers to our pilot facility at Alpro in Kortrijk. The visits offered the students the chance to tour the wastewater treatment facilities at Alpro, and see at first-hand how this kind of treatment system works. The pupils were able to analyse wastewater samples before they studied the microagae under the microscope. Some of them even took the opportunity to eat some algae which had been bought from a local shop!
Aquaculture 2014 is an event dedicated to adding value to aquaculture. This year it was held in San Sebastien in Spain. Dr Sofie Van Den Hende from UGent attended on behalf of EnAlgae and gave a presentation on adding value to Pike Perch culture wastewater using microalgal bacterial flocs. Delegates had plenty of questions to ask, both about the presentation and the project itself, and many companies expressed interest in the large number of pilot sites established by the project.
The decision support tool, one of the main lasting legacies of EnAlgae, has been undergoing demonstrations in front of Chinese delegates at a major ICT conference held in Guangzhou. Dr Pathmeswaran Raju of Birmingham City University presented a research paper and introduced the DST to the audience. The initial response was very positive, with the aims of the DST being to reduce the complexity of choosing cultivation and processing methods by automating the process using the captured knowledge.
It's been another busy year for all the staff and project partners involved in EnAlgae and we're sure next year, our final year, will be even busier. We're planning a European Roadshow to Parliaments we've not engaged with as yet and that will start in the New Year. The project comes to an end in the summer so we'll also be planning for our close-out conference. So plenty to look forward to. In the meantime, from all of is working on EnAlgae have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
a four-year Strategic Initiative of the INTERREG IVB North West Europe programme. It brings together 19 partners and 14 observers across
7 EU Member States with the aim of developing sustainable technologies for algal biomass production
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