ALCHEMIS - Algae for chemicals and emission abatement
MIP Vlaanderen has initiated the ALCHEMIS project on production of algae based on flue gasses and waste water. Besides the production of algae also the harvesting is examined and an assessment is made of the market for algae.
Scarcity in fossil based resources and the need for climate change mitigation face the chemical sector to find alternative resources and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Algae have the potential to solve part of these issues. However the analysis of algae production shows that energy use and use of fossil based nutrients have a very big impact from both the perspective of production costs and sustainability.
MIP Vlaanderen has initiated the ALCHEMIS project on production of algae which aims to address the problem of use of energy and nutrients in the production. The ALCHEMIS project examines the production of algae based on flue gasses and waste water. Besides the production of algae also the harvesting is examined and an assessment is made of the market for algae.
The important task of the project is the reduction of energy costs through improving the photobioreactor and harvesting technology. Regarding the nutrients, the only solution considred is the use of “waste“ nutrients. This project aims to demonstrate the production of algae on flue gasses and waste water in an algae farm with a production surface of approximately 500 m². This farm will have a production volume of approximately 4000 kg algae dry matter (DM) per year. This size allows to demonstrate the feasibility of larger scale algae production, to produce large enough quantities of products for functional testing and at the same time to keep the algae quantities manageable. In this configuration an algae farm closes the loop by using waste to produce new, high value materials.
The most important issues that will be addressed in the project are:
• Developing and building of a large-scale demonstration installation for algae biomass production in Flanders.
• Use of CO2 and NOx from waste gasses and “waste” nutrients from wastewater for algae production and determination of the influence of contamination on the use of the algae and thus on the product development.
• Combination of different concentration methods to achieve the best and most economical concentration method.
• Research on recycling of the effluent of the harvesting installation as growth medium in the reactor. Influence of metabolites of the algae on the growth of the algae.
• Development of downstream processing based on available technologies for other biomass resources and research on wet downstream processing and based on market opportunities.
• Design of a marketing plan for algae biomass in different production quantities.
Barriers and Drivers
Public funding allocated for this project is one of the important drivers.
At the moment it is early to judge about the economic performace of the innovation. However the project has an explisit task of developing the cost efficient methods of algae production and harvesting.
Environmental impact of this innovation is associated with the use of waste water for algae production, and less energy and acrbon intesive production process. Algae biomass being a substitute for traditional fossil fuel can potentially bring other environmental benefits.