The world's population is growing, and therefore the need for energy, chemicals, and products like plastic, soap, detergents, paints and glue. To be able to provide for this need, we need to switch to an economy in which we extract raw materials for these products from sustainable, renewable sources instead of fossil fuels.
The innovative side of algae
Biomass (plant and animal residues) is an important renewable source. An example of one of the most sustainable solutions for biomass is micro algae. We can win oil and protein in an innovative and effective way, which almost does not pose a burden on our environment. The production does not compete with fertile farmland or scarce freshwater, as algae can grow in seas or on infertile soils.
Research into large scale use
So far, we have only used micro algae on a small scale. In order to be able to use large-scale microalgae as a raw material for biomass, we need to scale up the process and reduce production costs. That is what we are working on in the AlgaePARC of Wageningen University & Research; we investigate what is the best light source for algae growth, which micro algae are most suitable, which system has the highest productivity and is most energy efficient.
Applicability, now and in the future
In the meantime, we have gathered enough information for the design of a commercial production system. Production costs are already interesting for food, cosmetics and for example animal food, but for cheaper products like energy, chemicals, and the replacement of palm oil and fish oil, production costs need to be further reduced. That can be the case within 10 years!
Want to know more about how Wageningen University & Research contributes to a circular and biobased economy? Then read further on the Circular & Biobased economy page.
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