A New Source for Sustainable Fuel? The potential of Azolla.
Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan on the potential of Azolla as biofuel
Trade expert and entrepreneur Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan has called for the development of a new feedstock for biofuel called Azolla across Latin America; “Investing in the growth of the Azolla plant will not only break new ground in the developments of sustainable biofuels, it will help Latin America remain competitive in the emerging biofuels market. Researchers have called it a ‘green gold mine’”. In addition to biofuel, studies have found it has potential uses as a “green manure in rice fields, as a feed supplement for aquatic and terrestrial animals, as a human food, as medicine, as water purifier, as a biofertilizer, control of weeds and mosquitoes”.
Azolla is an aquatic plant that can be grown in wastewater and can be used as a feedstock for the production of bioethanol. It can produce a substantial biomass quickly when planted in contaminated waters, and with its growth help to improve the quality of the waters itself by consuming chemicals. A study has shown that Azolla can “potentially produce up to 20.2 tons per hectare per year of bio-oil, and up to 48 tons per hectare per year of bio-char”. It can double in mass within 2-5 days. González Dellán argues that Azolla would be especially effective in a Latin American context, highlighting that “by moving the production of bio-ethanol from arable land to wastewater, the reclaimed land can then be used for the development of further sustainable crops while continuing the production of bioethanol.” Using Azolla as the primary foodstuff for bioethanol can lead to Latin America dramatically increasing its production of sustainable resources across the board through more efficient use of land.”
Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan added: “Adopting Azolla as a key crop would not only give Latin America an advantage in the biofuel market, it would be a great step forward in the quest for sustainability as a whole.”