Overview of European’s projects on algae production and algal biofuels

[EU] Algae and aquatic biomass has the potential to provide a new range of “third generation” biofuels, including jet fuels. Their high oil and biomass yields, widespread availability, absent (or very reduced) competition with agricultural land, high quality and versatility of the by-products, their efficient use as a mean to capture CO2 and their suitability for wastewater treatments and other industrial plants make algae and aquatic biomass one of the most promising and attractive renewable sources for a fully sustainable and low-carbon economy portfolio.

Here are some notable algae biofuel project in European countries.

Aufwind Project

The use of algae for the production of advanced biofuels presented by Dominik Behrendt, FZ Jülich, Germany, at EBTP SPM6, October 2014. The project focuses on the Aufwind Project on biojet fuels from algae.

The AUFWIND project, Germany, was launced in 2013 and involves twelve partners from research and industry, who are developing microalgae as a basis for the production of biokerosene. Key questions addressed are the economic and ecological feasibility of the process. The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) is funding the project with € 5.75 million via its project management organization FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe). Total funding for the project amounts to some € 7.4 million.

FUEL4ME, FUture European League 4 Microalgal Energy

FUEL4ME is a 4-year project funded by the EU, which is aiming to develop a sustainable, scalable process for biofuels from microalgae and to valorize the by-products by 2017. The specific aims are:

  1. To develop a continuous one-step process in which the lipid productivity in microalgae cultures is maximized and the lipid profile is optimized for the biofuel production.
  2. To translate the developed one-step process to outdoor, thereby achieving a robust and reliable production process with short downtime, continuous year round lipid production under different climates and an oil production of constant quality.
  3. To develop and integrate an innovative and continuous downstream process for conversion of microalgae into biofuels with consistent volume and quality, resulting into a technically feasible and sustainable process chain.
  4. To demonstrate the capability of the optimised process at a pilot scale under representative industrial conditions in a pilot facility in Spain.
  5. To assess the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the continuous production and conversion process developed by Fuel4me consortium.

View the latest FUEL4Me Newsletter (October 2014)

DEMADirect Ethanol from MicroAlgae

The DEMA project runs from 01.12.2012 to 31.05.2017. The Consortium, coodinated by University of Limerick, Ireland, will develop, demonstrate and licence a complete economically competitive technology for the direct production of bioethanol from microalgae with low-cost scalable photobioreactors by 2016. Initial proof-of-concept results show via Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and economic balance that it is feasible to use microalgae to produce bioethanol for less than 0.40 per litre. The catalytic conversion of solar energy, H2O and CO2 into ethanol will be carried out by a metabolically engineered strain of the cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.

FP7 Algae Cluster – BIOFAT, ALL Gas, and InteSusAl

Following the 2010 FP7 call on demonstration at industrial scale of algae and its subsequent use in biofuel production, a total EC contribution of €20.5 M was announced in support of three projects – BIOFAT, ALL Gas, and InteSusAl – which form the FP7 Algae Cluster.

The BIOFAT demonstration project aims to integrate the entire value chain in the production of ethanol and biodiesel. The process begins with strain selection and proceeds to biological optimization of the culture media, monitored algae cultivation, low-energy harvesting and technology integration. The project will be implemented in two phases: 1) Process optimization in two pilot scale facilities, each of 0.5 ha size, located in Italy and Portugal; and 2) Economical modeling and scale-up to a 10-hectare demo facility.

The raw material wil be industrial CO2 derived from fermentation. Production will be based on low-energy consuming photobioreactors. Algal oils will be transformed into FAME biodiesel and ethanol through fermentation. The project will also demonstrate the algorefinery concept with production of added value products in addition to biofuel.

BIOFAT is coordinated by A4F-AlgaFuel (Portugal). Partners include: Abengoa Bioenergia Nuevas Tecnologias (ABNT), University of Florence, Ben-Gurion University (Israel), Fotosintetica & Microbiologica (Italy), Evodos (Neherlands), AlgoSource Technologies (France), IN SRL (Italy) and Hart Energy (Belgium).

The ALL Gas project (Industrial scale Demonstration of Sustainable Algae Culture for Biofuels Production) will use wastewater, and will introduce a patented ‘ Light Enhancement Factor (LEF)’, to increase the biomass yield of raceway ponds. The residual algae will be digested with wastewater solids to produce biogas, which will be purified and used as fuel for at least 200 vehicles. Additional CO2 will be generated via thermal conversion of agricultural residues and digestate from algal residues.

InteSusAl (Demonstration of Integrated & Sustainable enclosed raceway and photobioreactor microalgae cultivation with biodiesel production and validation) aims to cultivate 1,500 dry tonnes from 10 ha over 18 months, which will be used to produce 580 tonnes of FAME biodiesel. Glycerine, will be used to enhance alagal growth rates. The production site will be be developed near the site of the existing E-BIO biodiesel production plant.

INTERREG IVB EnAlgae Project

EnAlgae brings together 19 partners and 14 observers across seven EU Member States. The project is developing sustainable technologies for algal biomass production, bioenergy and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, taking them from pilot facilities through to market-place products and services. By developing and sharing nine pilot-scale facilities across Europe, cost and access barriers can be overcome. The facilities will also give plant operators the ability to experience the full range of physical parameters (ranging from rural countryside to industrialised areas) that are present within the region.

See EnAlgae interactive Map of Algae Initiatives in North West Europe.

MED-ALGAE Production of biodiesel from Algae in selected Mediterranean Countries

The ~2.0 million Euro MED-ALGAE project “Production of biodiesel from Algae in selected Mediterranean Countries”, started in 2014 and runs for 36 months. The methodology includes all stages in the production of biodiesel from microalgae: sampling of seawater or freshwater, the selection of microalgae, species identification, cultivation of microalgae, harvesting and extraction of biodiesel and determination of properties of biodiesel produced in accordance with Standard EN14214 and its testing. Five pilots will be established in each participating country: Cyprus, Italy, Malta, Lebanon and Egypt. The project is implemented under the ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme, and financed (~90%) by the European Union through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.

Other FP7 projects on biofuels production from algae (and associated techniques for producing value-added bioproducts)

BioAlgaeSorb – focuses on enabling European SMEs to remediate wastes, reduce Green House Gas emissions and produce biofuels via microalgae cultivation.

The FP7 project BioWALK4Biofuels aims to develop an innovative system for the treatment of biowaste and use of GHG emissions to produce biofuels, where macroalgae is used as a catalyser.

D-Factory: In February 2014, the University of Greenwich, UK, announced it is leading a 4-year €10 million project supported by EC FP7 to develop the microalga Dunaliella as a sustainable raw material that captures carbon dioxide and can grow in some of the world’s harshest environments. The project will build a biorefinery called the ‘D-Factory’. The 13 D-Factory partners include:

Universities and research institutes: University of Greenwich, UK; National Technical University of Athens, Greece;Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, Germany; Marine Biological Association, UK.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs): A4F AlgaFuel S.A., Portugal; Nature Beta Technologies, Israel; SPTechnical Research Institute of Sweden; Dynamic Extractions, UK; NateCO2, Germany; Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnologica, Portugal; Evodos, Netherlands; Hafren Investments, UK; IN, Italy.

GIAVAP (Genetic Improvement of Algae for Value Added Product) is a large scale integrating project involving twelve partners from five European and one associated country. The consortium will adapt genetic engineering techniques to various algal strains of economic interest focusing on carotenoid and PUFA production and the overexpression of peptides of commercial value. In parallel the project will develop cultivation technologies, harvesting and extraction methods using model algae strains and suitable improved strains. Techniques developed could potentially also have applications in the energy field.

PHOTO.COMM – includes close collaboration with three European companies, AlgaFuel, Novagreen and Algae Biotech, who will test strains under full production conditions in state-of-the-art photobioreactors. The aim is the development of novel, carbon-neutral production platforms and the ultimate establishment of state of the art photobioreactor technology in Denmark. The project will fund a consortium of 9 groups and provide trans-European training for a network of PhD students.

The AQUAFUELs project, supported under FP7, started in January 2010. AquaFUELS investigated the state of the art on research, technological development and demonstration activities regarding the exploitation of various algal and other suitable non-food aquatic biomasses for 2nd generation biofuels production.

Other FP7 projects include SUNBIOPATH towards a better sunlight to biomass conversion efficiency in microalgae (FP7 245070)


View original article at: Algae, cyanobacteria and aquatic plants for production of biofuels

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