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IDEA envisions the development and enrolment of economic viable value chains based on micro-algae in NWEurope. More particularly, partners from Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands and Ireland are involved which are countries exposed to a similar climate that is significantly different from the south-European  and North-European climate. 

The growing world population is in need for new sustainable resources for healthy food/feed & chemicals. Algae produce a variety of compounds via conversion of CO2, nutrients and light, and offer potential as renewable feedstock. Although light intensities and temperatures are lower compared to south-Europe, there is a potential for algae growth. For some species, the NWEuropean climate may even have advantages, and can be economic viable when targeting higher value products (not bioenergy).

Today algae based value chains are not established despite free greenhouse capacities suitable for algae growth. IDEA aims to innovate and push the process development from individual solutions to a viable process chain targeting final compounds for food, feed and cosmetic applications. This will involve at longer term >60 SMEs in the region.

A multidisciplinary team is composed with partners (academics, SMEs, sectoral groups, authorities…) active along the value chain which covers algae growth, harvesting, processing of the algae biomass (including biorefinery) and new marketable final product formulations.

The IDEA project was extended in 2021 with a capitalization part. One of the new challenges is to evaluate to which extend side-streams such as residual heat, nutrients, water and CO2 can be used to cultivate algae biomass. Besides algae cultivation in closed photobioreactors, also open ponds operating on process water are being considered, where the MAF-technology is being used to harvest the algae. The application areas studied before (feed, food, cometics) are extended to crop protection.

IDEA addresses innovations related to:

  • algae species for NWEurope climate and cultivation efficiency for prolonged growth seasons in NWE (up to 360 days)
  • development of an automated water recirculation, harvest unit & alternative CO2 resources
  • storage concept, logistics and preservation of algae biomass
  • regional activities for algae processing, potentially comparable to the milk industry
  • >15 novel products formulations to targeting value generation. IDEA starts where earlier projects ended.