How can we produce algae more efficiently at lower cost and with greater sustainability in Belgium? This question is the starting point of four European projects that VITO is working on.

Algae contain many valuable components: proteins, fats, oil, dyes, antioxidants ... Moreover, they also absorb CO2 and nutrients. The demand for algae is large and comes from different quarters: the chemical industry, the (livestock) feed and pharmaceutical industry, and the energy sector.

Producing algae more efficiently, at lower cost and more sustainably

In recent years, VITO has conducted research on algae in four European and interregional projects: IAlgaePro, Miracles, Biosea en IDEA. The common goal: to produce algae more efficiently, more cheaply and more sustainably, and to fractionate and valorise the valuable components in the algae biomass into diverse end products.

Together with twenty industrial stakeholders from Flanders and Germany, in IAlgaePro VITO compared multiple techniques to improve the dewatering of algae. In addition, the project also explored new methods to efficiently separate and purify algae dyes and proteins for further marketing in food products. The Miracles project developed the technology to make the production of microalgae more sustainable and to make it commercially interesting for SMEs. VITO developed an innovative technology for harvesting algae and reusing water to the maximum.

In Biosea, project partners from all over Europe are looking for efficient technologies to extract molecules for food and cosmetics from algae. VITO is working on converting biomass from seaweeds into useful components. Finally IDEA aims by 2020 to find algae that thrive in our Belgian climate.