Study to use biomass from the Mar Menor for agriculture and industry

Visit by the Regional Ministry of the Environment to the biomass removal works in Playa Honda. CARM

The Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) proposes to reuse the biomass collected on the beaches of the southern Mar Menor in industry and agriculture, according to sources from the City Council of Cartagena in a statement.

The mayoress of the port city, Noelia Arroyo, has met with UAM researchers Francisco Marin and Cristina Soler to learn about the initiative, which has a funding of 500,000 euros from the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Specifically, both professors are developing the research project entitled Valorisation of the algae accumulated on the shores of the Mar Menor as a result of its eutrophication (Algarikon), within the framework of the Strategic Projects Oriented towards Ecological Transition and Digital Transition 2021 programme.

Research is well underway and the project has already been granted a patent.

“We are interested in checking whether the organic matter from the biomass generated in the Mar Menor can be put to other uses and not go directly to landfill, and to this end we are contacting scientific teams and also companies in the Escombreras Valley who are also doing their own research in this field,” said Arroyo.

As the councillor explained, “it is a question of transforming a problem that we have been suffering for years in the Mar Menor into an opportunity to give an agricultural and industrial use to this overproduction of algae” that the salt lagoon generates.

“Economically profitable uses
Professor Francisco Marín explained that the aim of the project is to “find economically profitable uses for the excess algae produced in the Mar Menor, and which will help to eliminate this problem while it persists in a self-sufficient manner”. According to him, the aim is to “revalue the surplus algae and introduce it into a circular economy system with zero waste”.

The reuse of these algae is proposed as an alternative substrate for the cultivation of edible mushrooms, as a soil improver and organic biostimulator for the cultivation of lettuce and through anaerobic fermentation for methane production. All in the framework of a sequential process in which part of the algae will be used in agriculture to grow mushrooms and vegetables, which would then be fermented to produce biogas.

The research is well advanced, and the project already has a patent pending at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

Arroyó announced a few months ago that the municipal government is in contact with companies in the Escombreras Valley which are also carrying out their own research into the use of algae and sludge collected in the Mar Menor as biofuels.

It is worth remembering that in the last Council of Government of the year, the Community approved a grant of 730,626 euros for the implementation of the project for the environmental recovery of the bathing areas of the Mar Menor, specifically on the beaches of Punta Brava, Los Urrutias, Estrella de Mar and Los Nietos.


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