Researchers: Joshua Mayers, Eva Albers
Production and valorisation of algal biomass into high-value metabolites and bulk materials in an integrated biorefinery alongside fermentative and forestry bioprocesses.
BioBUF as a project aims to produce a range of sustainable products through several integrated bioprocesses; microalgae contributes not only through the production of high-value metabolites, but also by consuming possible wastes or emissions generated at different stages of other processes.
In terms of products, we have decided to focus on the production of carotenoid pigments, which in our target species includes the molecules lutein, β-carotene, astaxanthin and zeaxanthin. These have a range of application in several markets, with the largest growth being in the human nutrition and functional ingredient market.
Additional products could be lipids that may be suitable as biodiesel precursors, and a carbohydrate and amino acid rich residue that can be hydrolysed for use as a fermentation feedstock, reducing reliance on costly nutrient inputs for this process.
In addition, essential nutrients for microalgal production (N/P) can be supplied by anaerobic digestion processes, while the CO2 needed for photosynthesis can be supplied from combustion of biogas or from fermentation emissions. Excess heat from these processes could also help maintain consistent growth conditions year round, or in the downstream processing of microalgal biomass.
Our current work seeks to improve pigment production in green microalgae using strategies that are relevant to the proposed biorefinery concept, while also evaluating the feasibility of the process. As such we work in close coordination with members of the BioBUF consortia from the Division of Energy and Environment and SP Food and Bioscience, who consider these scenarios on a process, life-cycle assessment and economic basis.
Funding: Formas, The region of Västra Götaland and external partners of the BioBUF project.