Algaemax More in detail
THE RESEARCH PROJECT
The worldwide production of microalgae is currently around 5,000 tons per year of dry algal biomass, and is used for livestock feed, fish meal, and high value extracts for dietary supplements, functional foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Microalgae contain around 30% by weight of lipids/oil, and are regarded as a highly promising feedstock for biofuels, primarily biodiesel.
Microalgae are commercially grown in open ponds or bioreactors, and then harvested using a centrifuge separator. The centrifuge 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.
The Algaemax reserach project aims to address these issues via the development and demonstration of an innovative and cost effective ultrasound flow cell to concentrate the microalgae, with the aim of eliminating the centrifuge component. The technology will be integrated into harvesting and extraction systems, reducing investment and operational costs and helping SMEs address larger markets and to grow their business. The ultimate aim of the project is to eliminate the high capital cost and energy cost of the dewatering step, while ensuring the high quality and long shelf life of the microalgae products.
Three important research organisations will develop the Algaemax research project. Two Algaemax end-user companies and other two technical companies will guide the researchers to achieve the best results on the research. From their side, researchers will provide SMEs with valuable intellectual property generated.
Algaemax is a project co-funded by the European Commission under the ‘Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development of the European Union’. One million euro is the total amount of public funding that will be support initial private investment.
Algaemax belongs to the Capacities wide programme and particularly to the specific programme ‘Research for the Benefit of SMEs’. The public funding is focused on the “reduction of microalgae harvesting cost via the development of an ultrasound flow cell to provide preconcentration”.
Starting Date: October 2012.
Expected Duration: 2 years.