Now, algae from Bath’s Roman Baths to fuel cars

London, July 12: Scientists have found that the algae growing in Bath's Roman Baths could be used to make fuel for cars.

Researchers have been carrying out studies on how to create biodiesel from algae for 20 years, but limitations currently prevent it being used on a large scale.

Now they hope to produce one of the seven algae in the Roman Baths in commercially viable quantities. Extracting the oil from the algae cell can produce biodiesel.

"Algae are usually happiest growing at temperatures around 25C and that can limit the places in which it can be cultivated on a large scale," the BBC quoted PhD student Holly Smith-Baedorf, who is working on the project at the University of Bath, as saying.

"Areas where these ideal conditions are available also usually make good arable areas and are therefore needed for food production.

"In an ideal world we would like to grow algae in desert areas where there are huge expanses of land that don't have other uses, but the temperatures in these zones are too high for algae to flourish," she explained.

The research team, which also includes the university's department of chemistry and scientists at the University of the West of England, is growing each of the algae from the Roman Baths over a range of temperatures and comparing them to "control" algae known for being good for producing biodiesel at normal temperatures.

"The results of this study will help us identify whether there is a particular algae species among the seven identified in the Roman Baths that is well adapted to growing at higher temperatures and also suitable for producing sufficient amounts of biodiesel to make wide-scale production viable," Professor Rod Scott said.

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