Page content

Read the 2016 abstract of Hans Reith (Wageningen UR) here!

Production of specialties for food, aquaculture and non-food applications via multi-product biorefinery of microalgae: Progress to date of the EU FP7 project MIRACLES

Hans Reith(1), Leen Bastiaens (2), Hans Kleivdal(3), Lolke Sijtsma(4), Philippe Willems(5), Carlos Unamunzaga(6), Elke Breitmayer(7), Macarena Sanz(8), René Wijffels(1)

1) Wageningen University, NL; Corresponding author; hans.reith@wur.nl 2) Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek NV, BE; 3) Uni Research AS, NO; 4) Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, NL; 5) Value for Technology BVBA, BE; 6) Fitoplancton Marino SL, ES; 7) nova-Institut für Politische und Ökologische Innovation GmbH, DE; 8) IDConsortium SL, ES.Wageningen University

The aim of the MIRACLES project (2013-2017) is to develop integrated biorefinery technologies for production of specialties from algae for food, aquaculture and selected non-food applications. Furthermore the project aims to achieve substantial cost reduction of algae biomass production.

Significant progress is being made in the area of algae cultivation and harvesting. Fitoplancton selected a promising indicator gene as a molecular tool for rapid analysis and real time monitoring of the Triacylglycerides (TAG) synthesis status in Nannochloropsis cultures. In the development of supported amine based technology for CO2 capture from air, partner University of Twente has previously screened and characterized suitable sorbents and has now elaborated the first design for the CO2 capturing device that is currently being verified. Wageningen University and University of Huelva are constructing an updated design of a novel liquid foam-bed reactor concept aimed at (1) providing proof of principle, and (2) longer term operation. Partners Vito and Thomas More continued their activities in the development of membrane based medium recycle and biomass pre-concentration technology. Lab scale tests revealed that 75-90% water recirculation is possible without negative impacts on algae growth when suitable doses of N and P are added. Tests on pilot scale are in preparation. Development of integrated biorefinery technology aims at employing mild disruption and “green” extraction and fractionation technologies to produce multiple specialties from algae biomass. For cell disruption mechanical methods incl. homogenization and bead milling were previously tested and compared. Partner Wageningen Food & Biobased Research made recent progress in protein isolation. Improvement of recovery efficiency and purity is under study. By using ultrafiltration, colour components were very well retrieved in the retentate. Optimization of filtration efficiency and the yield of proteins in the filtrate is ongoing. Partner CSIC has completed and published several studies on  sequential biorefinery processes of Isochrysis  galbana and Scenedesmus obliquus.

Good progress has also been made in the bioprospecting program for identification and selection of new, robust industrial algal strains. Thusfar 27 candidate strains have been identified that match pre-defined criteria formulated by the industrial partners. Implementation and operation of identical pilot scale photobioreactors at 3 partner locations is ongoing, to compare productivity data in identical reactors under different climatic conditions. Value chains have been selected for the demonstration activities in the project which are now underway. Furthermore good progress is being made in the techno-economic and sustainability assessment. With regard to product development various applications are being targeted, from aquafeed, feed, functional supplements to materials, following an approach that focuses on establishing real consumer benefits in using microalgae derived products.

The presentation will highlight the progress and major achievements in the project to date.

1: “Multi-product Integrated bioRefinery of Algae: from Carbon dioxide and Light Energy to high-value Specialties”; [MIRACLES]“. Funded through EU FP7 GA # 613588. Website: http://miraclesproject.eu