Algaemax More in detail
Algaemax addresses the needs of SME
microalgae producers by developing and
demonstrating an innovative technology to
concentrate microalgae suspensions, whilst
preserving quality, with significantly reduced
capital investment and energy costs.
THE ALGAEMAX TECHNOLOGY
The cost-effective Algaemax technology will be integrated into SME microalgae harvesting and extraction systems, reducing investment and operational costs and helping SMEs address larger markets and to grow their business.
Microalgae harvesting involves the concentration of dilute microalgae suspensions and may involve one or more steps. The major techniques employed in microalgae harvesting and recovery include centrifugation, flocculation or filtration, which have a number of limitations such as high investment costs and energy demand as well as high processing times.
The amount of energy used in centrifugation accounts for up to 50% of the total processing energy, thus representing a barrier for new companies to enter the market and for existing producers to scale up production, and to compete in the larger lower-value products market. This situation is even more complicated for small and medium-sized companies.
THE ALGAE MARKET, A NEW OPPORTUNITY
FOR EUROPEAN SMEs
Microalgae are grown and used for the production of livestock feed and fish meal, organic fertilizers, and high value extracts such as poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), natural pigments, nutraceuticals and antioxidants: used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and functional foods. The worldwide production of microalgae is currently around 7,000 tons per year of dry algal biomass. Microalgae contain around 30% by weight of lipids/oil and therefore are regarded as a highly promising feedstock for biofuels, primarily biodiesel.
The global algae biomass market is worth between 3.5 and 5 billion EUR, with a high level of SME participation. From this total, the health food sector accounts for €1.5 billion and the aquaculture applications account for €0.5 billion. Microalgae, which typically contain around 30% by weight of lipids/oil, are also regarded as a highly promising feedstock for biofuels (primarily biodiesel).
The harvesting step is highly energy intensive, due to the properties of the microalgae and their low concentration in the growing medium (water), and represents a major obstacle to the economic viability of microalgae biodiesel production. The capital investment required for the centrifuge is also a barrier for widespread SME entry to the sector.
Reduced production and downstream costs are key for algae biomass producers, including SMEs, to progress from the now saturated €1-3 billion market for high value (>€5/kg) products to the €50 billion market for lower value (<€5/kg) products.