Lebanon: the MED-ALGAE project wins National Energy Globe Award
Producing fuel out of algae: this ambitious challenge is worth the National Energy Globe Award for the Lebanese researchers of the MED-ALGAE project.
The Lebanese team of the MED-ALGAE project won the National Energy Globe Award for its outstanding work in developing the potential of using micro-algae to make a "greener" fuel that is renewable and does not harm the environment. The award is one of the world’s most prestigious in the sustainability sector: it will be officially granted on 5 June 2016, which marks the UN World Environment Day.
During the MED-ALGAE project, Professor Yusuf Abou Jawdah and his team at the American University of Beirut, in partnership with other researchers from Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Italy, and Malta, investigated the microalgal diversity of coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea. Together, they isolated more than 20 microalgae strains that are potential biodiesel producers.
While trying to make fuel from the algae, Professor Yusuf Abou Jawdah came across an interesting side effect. Some of the algae under study proved to be excellent sources of protein as well as other food supplements. "The composition of a species of microalgae found along the coast of Lebanon, in powder form, showed a 20 percent protein content, which is considered high. By way of comparison, red meat has about 20 percent protein," said Professor Abou Jawdah in an interview to the website of the American University of Beirut.
Yet, microalgae grow much faster than terrestrial plants and naturally captures CO2 from the air. Another benefit is that unlike other crops used for producing biofuels, microalge do not compete with conventional agricultural production.
While further research is still needed to have gas stations selling fuel produced from a literally green source, the Lebanese team is confident that the National Energy Globe Award will give new momentum to the MED-ALGAE project. "Winning the National Energy Globe Award is the opportunity to showcase the Med-Algae project contribution to clean energy. It is a confirmation of the project innovation and objective’s successes. It will highlight the project achievements and extend its existing stakeholder’s network all over the world," said Dr Rita NAJJAR, in charge of renewable energy at the Lebanese Association for Energy Saving and for Environment (ALMEE), another partner of the MED-ALGAE project.
MED-ALGAE received €1.8 million of ENPI contribution. The partnership, composed of 12 organizations from six countries, was coordinated by the Agricultural Research Institute of Cyprus.
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About the Energy Globe Award
Around 1,000 projects from 150 countries apply annually for the Energy Globe Award: its aims to recognize projects that make careful and economical use of resources and employ alternative energy sources. The jury is headed by Maneka Gandhi, member of the Indian Parliament and former Minister for Environment.
Dr Rita NAJJAR