Alternative biomasses as raw material for biorefinery concepts

Researchers: Joakim Olsson, Eva Albers

Biofuels in Sweden are made using rapeseed, wheat, barley and left-over wine as raw materials. All of these resources are from traditional agriculture and require land, fertilizers, freshwater and effectively food crops. While these types of biomasses will surely play a role in a future sustainable transportation sector, alternative more sustainable biomass sources are also needed. Micro- and macroalgae do not require arable land and can grow on waste resources, such as waste water, or need no other nutrient inputs than the sea provides naturally. However, to realise algae biofuels, targeted research efforts and technology development regarding cultivation and refining processes are required.

In this cooperative project between the divisions of Industrial Biotechnology and Energy Technology, we aim to investigate the biofuel potential of micro- and macroalgae in Sweden. This will be done through modelling of selected refining systems, which could suit the biomasses depending on their biochemical composition, at Energy Technology. At Industrial biotechnology we are providing detailed data required to develop such models. For microalgae, abundant literature data already exists, but for macroalgae there are significant gaps in knowledge regarding their biochemical composition, especially for those sources found on the West coast of Sweden. With aid from collaborators at The Lovén Centre Tjärnö (Gothenburg University), potential species have been collected and their general biochemical content is being analysed. Out of these, candidate species with good chemical content for biofuel production will be chosen and the project will focus on how they can be cultivated and refined.

Funding: Cooperation program of Chalmers Area of Advance Energy and Preem.


Published: Thu 09 Jul 2015. Modified: Mon 19 Sep 2016