Emerald Oils

Vegetable oils such as sunflower, rapeseed, bean and palm oil are used as a raw material for both food and non-food industries. These edible oils can be found in a wide variety of food products such as margarine, soups, sauces, bouillon, ice cream, and in home and personal care products such as soaps, detergents and cosmetics. In addition, there is also a growing demand for edible oil for use as a biofuel for transport and energy. Because of the rapid and ever-growing global demand of edible oils, which is expected to at least double the coming decade there is a need for alternative natural and sustainable sources of edible oils. A promising option for this sourcing route is microalgal oil and large scale production of edible oils by microalgae can as such contribute to a sustainable future.


FND Project Emerald Oils aims to enable future production and access to natural, sustainable sources of the edible oils, derived from the microalgae.


Research methods

In the initial stage an algal strains are selected based on predefined selection criteria among which a high yield of tri-acyl-glycerol (TAG) on light. After selection research focuses on improvement of the TAG yield on light and changing the fatty acid composition of TAG using different process conditions and through strain improvement. For strain improvement approaches such as random mutagenesis and modern biotechnology methods are used. In the latter approach transcriptomics is performed, in combination with detailed metabolic modelling.
Finally, economic and sustainability aspects of the process will be evaluated.


AlgaePARC Contribution

Creating metabolic and genetic insights
We cultivate microalgae under controlled laboratory conditions. Under these conditions, starch and TAG accumulation is induced and production and consumption rates of all important metabolites, substrates and products are measured. We develop metabolic models and measure gene expression to obtain insight in algal metabolism and more specific the metabolism and metabolic control of TAG synthesis.

Strain Development
We create new strains, to obtain insight in the TAG synthesis pathways and to obtain improved strains with higher TAG yields on light and more favourable fatty acid compositions.

Cultivation optimisation
We are testing various cultivation conditions to improve TAG yields on light and influence the fatty acid compositions. In addition results are used for modelling.

Evaluation of economic and sustainability aspects
The results obtained will be integrated with the economic and sustainability analysis done at AlgaePARC.

Research team

Photo of Maria Barbosa

Maria Barbosa


Photo of Rene Wijffles

Rene Wijffles

Professor/Chair Bioprocess Engineering