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Published on May 2, 2009
Romantic canals, renaissance buildings, gondolas — the city of Venice is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
But just below its rather green-looking waterline lurks a wide range of differing algae, and that is what creates the unwelcome stench in the citys waterways.
All that may soon change as Venice port-authorities team up with the renewable energy services company Enalg to convert the slimy ingredient into fuel for Italys first algae-fueled power plant.
The algae will be cultivated in laboratories and put in plastic cylinders where water, carbon dioxide, and sunshine trigger photosynthesis.
The resulting biomass will be treated further to produce a fuel to turn turbines.
The carbon dioxide produced in the process is to be fed back to the algae, resulting in zero emissions from the plant.
[Paolo Costa, President, Venice Port-Authority]: Algae multiplies incredibly quickly which is something we use in our favor. They produce a huge amount of combustible energy which isn't exactly burnt up but separated and when it is exposed to a high temperature it starts up a generator that produces power.
The Venice plant is expected to be running in two years and produce 40 megawatts of electricity with zero emission.
That will help preserve the historic, canal-laced city's delicate ecological balance.
But for Costa there is also another kind of payoff:
[Paolo Costa, President, Venice Port Authority]: "We are looking at zero emission which is one of those dreams that people working in the world of energy have been trying to achieve for a long time.