Hypes and hopes for microalgae
Our colleagues from the AlgaePARC research program published a new and interesting opinion paper. The paper highlights a few topics. Feel free to check the full text, it was published in Open Access.
Microalgae can contribute to food security through the sustainable production of proteins and lipids, which are required to meet population growth and address environmental challenges.
Cellular agriculture is developing with emerging bioprocesses based on solar energy, photovoltaics, H2, C1 carbon sources, and sugar as feedstocks.
Different trophic modes – autotrophy, heterotrophy, and mixotrophy – have been successfully explored for microalgae.
The production of microalgae has tripled in the last 5 years.
The genetic toolbox for industrially relevant phototrophic strains expanded tremendously in the last 5 years.
Special guests visited AlgaePARC yesterday
On the 1st of March, our colleagues welcomed the participants of the 5th Algae World Europe at our pilot facilities in Wageningen. Professor René Wijffels (Scientific Director AlgaePARC, Chairholder BPE/Wageningen University), who was present during the visit, gave a presentation about the future applications of microalgae during the event in Rotterdam. Also present were our colleagues Rafael Cubero (Research assistant), Rick Wieggers (Operational manager AlgaePARC), and Professor Maria Barbosa (Director AlgaePARC).
We were very happy to welcome so many algae-enthusiasts and thankful for the visit.
AlgaePARC joined a new EU innovative consortium
REALM put together 16 European partners in a truly circular and multidisciplinary concept.
In REALM, we use circular agriculture to produce microalgae which will then clean the drain water for safe reuse or release.
The second major innovation is applying the continuous cultivation mode on an industrial scale.
Additionally, we are developing new systems to cultivate and harvest microalgae automatically, ensuring maximum growth rate of the microalgae and reduced labour costs. Newly developed sensors will monitor the composition of the growth medium, the quality of the culture and other biological, physical and chemical variables of microalgae production. This will greatly improve process control and consequently productivity. By coupling the collected data with artificial intelligence, we will develop predictive models and digital twins to determine the most productive cultivation setup and conditions for each microalgae strain and environment
The REACT program supports AlgaePARC 2.0
Microalgae are recognized by the EU as an important factor in the transition to a green and circular economy, a leap necessary for the sustainable development of the EU green deal programme. Microalgae are photosynthetic microorganisms able to grow on seawater using sunlight, nutrients, CO2 with a productivity superior to agricultural crops without competing for fertile land. It is a growing industry and many companies in various industries see microalgae as an important source of sustainable raw materials, including vegetable proteins, oil and functional ingredients.
A large number of SMEs/Start-ups are emerging and need a facility in which the technology can be further developed to the technology level ready for market introduction. Technology development among SMEs is often limited by the high investments in infrastructure required to realize their technology on a pilot scale. The high investments in the development phase involve great risks and are difficult to finance for an individual company.
AlgaePARC is a pilot plant where technology has been developed in the field of production and biorefinery of microalgae for 10 years and can help reduce this risk. With the requested REACT investments, the available lab, pilot, and demo infrastructure of AlgaePARC can be expanded and made available to SMEs as shared infrastructure. Several SMEs can simultaneously further develop their innovative technology on location and use the available expertise.
The REACT subsidized investments will enable AlgaePARC to implement the facilities required by SMEs, new screening systems (accelerated selection of algae strains for faster scale-up), increase production and testing capacity on laboratory, pilot, and demonstration scale, including production of food-grade algae, and production of genetically modified algae, testing innovative sensors to enable automation and efficient process control strategies for better product quality, and developing a biorefinery unit, which will allow the isolation of functional ingredients in addition to biomass.
Wageningen University and Research is a global leader in the field of microalgae production and biorefinery. This has been achieved with scientific merit and valorization at AlgaePARC. AlgaePARC 2.0, together with several SMEs, will develop business cases for new technologies and products to attract investors and realize market access and, in this way, support the transition to a circular and sustainable bioeconomy.
MERIT project is introduced to the public
A campus TV team visited the department for Algae Biotechnology & Bioenergy of Bielefeld University to report about the MERIT project. The film clip is now available online.
In the movie, our Partners from Bielefeld present the project, explaining the key concepts and introducing our pilot and outdoor facilities at AlgaePARC.
GM organisms tested @ AlgaePARC
In June 2020, AlgaePARC became one of the few Research Pilot facilities in Europe to have permits to grow GM microorganisms in pilot scale photobioreactors. The permits were granted by the Dutch Authorities after successfully demonstrating the safety of production in our greenhouses in Wageningen University. This will allow us to run trials from 20 to 1500 litres using natural or artificial light; all of this done under controlled conditions. This next step gives us and our partners the ideal place to test our newly developed strains. Do you want to know more? Are you interested in collaboration? please contact us!
New lab + Pilot facilities AlgaePARC Bonaire
Bioprocess Engineering (BPE) Group of Wageningen University inaugurated a new space for Science and Innovation in the Caribbean. AlgaePARC Bonaire came to stand thanks to the collaboration with our partners Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire (OLB) and Water en Energie Bedrijf Bonaire (WEB). On the 11th of March, Professor René Wijffels and his team welcomed local authorities and the Press to celebrate the starting of research activities on the Island.
Our Lab+Pilot received financial support from the NWO (Caribbean Program), OCTA(EU), Wageningen University, WEB, and OLB. We built this space under the umbrella of the AlgaePARC Research Program to showcase the feasibility of cheaper and more sustainable microalgae production systems; which are now being tested on the island using local species. Besides developing technology, AlgaePARC Bonaire wants to showcase the production of microalgae using local resources and independent from the grid. However, we have bigger plans for this initiative and want to make a call to action: our long-term ambition is to be a Hub for Innovation and Education in the region; a place to integrate different disciplines and where people can learn and teach each other. We would like to invite Research Groups inside WU to contact us if they are interested in becoming users of this space, or if they want to start partnerships with us.
Course announcement: Microalgae Process Design
This course provides the essential skills for designing optimal microalgae-based production processes, for both research and commercial purposes.
The course is aimed at PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, professionals from academy and industry, who would like to acquire a thorough understanding of microalgal metabolism and photobioreactor design and operation.
For more info, check the pdf attached or use the link below:
On November 22, Dr. Iago Teles presented the results of our algaePARC Bonaire project. Present during the event there were more than 50 participants from different Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT’s). I was a great opportunity to create a network of different territories and to see how we could cooperate together.
We also shared our latest video, where you can find the last updates and a description of the project.
AlgaePARC educates professionals for microalgae-based production processes. Students learn to describe microalgal metabolism, to apply basic design principles for photobioreactors and to cultivate microalgaeMovie Education
Results of AlgaePARC
View AlgaePARC’s results over the last 5 years. Which specific results, e.g. on biorefinery of microalgae, did we achieve? How cost-effective are microalgae for different types of products – such as food and feed, chemicals, materials and fuels – right now?Movie AlgaePARC Results
Outlook on microalgal chains of AlgaePARC, Wageningen UR.Download pdf
At AlgaePARC we aim at innovation and fostering implementation of a sustainable feedstock in a biobased economy context.
Innovation a implementation needs to be communicated and understood by our society and policy makers.