Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

FUEL4ME Report Summary

Project ID: 308983
Funded under: FP7-ENERGY
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - FUEL4ME (FUture European League 4 Microalgal Energy)

Project Context and Objectives:
FUEL4ME: Future European league for microalgal energy

Project context and objectives
The 4-year FUEL4ME project will develop a sustainable chain for continuous biofuel production using microalgae as a production platform, thereby making 2nd generation biofuels competitive alternatives to fossil fuels. This will be achieved by:
1) Transforming the current 2-step process for algal lipid production into a continuous 1-step process with high lipid content (production process);
2) Development of a continuous downstream process using all components of the algal biomass (conversion process);
3) Integration of production and conversion process.

After setting up a proof of concept within controlled indoor conditions, the continuous process will be tested outdoors under real production conditions in four different regions (NL, IL, IT ES). Simultaneous with research on biomass production, a continuous downstream process will be developed. Finally the whole process (both biomass production and conversion into biofuel) will be integrated and subjected to an economic analysis and life cycle analysis.

FUEL4ME aims to exploit one the unique strengths of algae: the ability to produce lipids using energy from photosynthesis. These lipids form excellent starting material for the production of bulk products; the largest fraction of the lipids will be used for the production of biofuel (NExBTL) and a smaller fraction will be used for food and feed components (ω3 fatty acids). This way optimal use of biomass results in simultaneous production of food and fuel.

Project Results:
Work performed since the beginning of the project and the main results achieved so far
The kick-off meeting was organised 5 – 6 March 2013 where total project overview, scientific dependencies, project obligations, reporting, meetings, legal and financial aspects and also the importance to act as a team were intensively discussed and agreed upon. In the course of the project, regularly project meetings have been organised with the consortium partners, and also with our scientific advisory board to discuss progress of the project.
In the first reporting period (January 2013 – June 2014) work has started on fundamental research and enabling technologies: understanding the genes, metabolism, biochemical aspects of the chosen strains (Nannochloropsis oceanica and Phaeodactylum tricornutum). In the second reporting period (July 2014 – June 2015) more knowledge on the formation and migration of intracellular lipid globules was generated. This knowledge should enable us to understand and finally improve the lipid productivity of our process. Furthermore, the proof of principle concept for a one-step lipid production process was developed. In the second reporting period we have shown that an optimized one-step process with P. tricornutum resulted in an 8-fold higher TAG yield on light (54 mg/mol PAR-photons) and a similar TAG content (16.5% of dry weight) compared to a two-step process with full nitrogen depletion, at same incident light intensity. Further optimization of the one-step process for P. tricornutum seems limited mainly by the capacity of the organism itself (i.e. to remain photosynthetically efficient during nitrogen limitation). In work package 2, where the translation from outdoors to production will be made, detailed engineering of the pilot plants was performed. Flat panel photobioreactors were installed in Israel and Italy and the Netherlands and a larger demonstration plant consisting of ProviAPT photobioreactors has been installed in Spain. At the smaller pilot plants experiments have been performed under various nitrogen sufficient and limited conditions with both Nannochloropsis and Phaeodactylum, and in batch and semi-continuous mode. These trials allowed for the collection of input data for our life cycle analysis (WP 5), next to of course understanding and input for process optimization of lipid production with both algae species. Furthermore, biomass has been produced for downstream processing experiments (WP 3) both in Italy and in Spain. Harvesting with the Evodos Type 10 of Nannochloropsis and Phaeodactylum was successfully demonstrated. The tests demonstrated that > 95% of the algae can be harvested at highest capacity of the pilot scale Evodos. Preliminary tests were done with supersonic flow processing equipment for Nannochloropsis cell disruption to achieve the maximum lipid release. The first experiments on extraction with supercritical carbon dioxide and subsequent characterization of fatty acids have been performed. Further tuning of process conditions improved the recovery of the omega 3 PUFAs significantly (from 30% to more than 80%) and the purity was increased from 50% to more than 85%. A further fractionation of the raffinate resulted a distillate free of contaminants with an increase of EPA content.
Objective of WP 5 is to perform a sustainability assessment, including environmental, economic and social elements based on the whole value chain in a life cycle perspective. For the assessment of the FUEL4ME integrated process a modelling approach was developed to describe a possible future commercial HVO production from microalgae by giving guiding values for some key technological and economic data. Three cases with a production capacity of 100 kt/a HVO and coproducing PUFA are modelled. For the modelling of algae oil production, targets, characteristics, data and assumptions were defined with strong interaction of project partners. These targets give possible framework conditions for a future commercial algae oil production.
In WP 6, concerning communication and exploitation, a communication and dissemination plan, website, newsletter, roll-up, project brochure have been established and are continuously updated. Moreover, a stakeholder list has been issued and an industrial board and an online advisory service have been set up. Partners have been very active in disseminating the scientific results in various conferences and other meetings.

Potential Impact:
Expected final results and their potential impact and use
These key outcomes from this 4-year initiative will foster the production of sustainable biofuels in an economically, socially, and environmentally manner and to alleviate possible problems regarding competition with food in the bioenergy field:
• A sustainable process for biofuel production from microalgae demonstrated at pilot scale.
• Optimisation of lipid productivity in an integrated microalgae cultivation process based on photobioreactors
• Improvement in the extraction of oil from microalgae and conversion into biofuel.
• Commercial viability of the process by valorisation of the residual biomass
• Enabling a sustainable approach that can be replicated elsewhere across Europe.

Partnership
The consortium consists of a powerful mix of established research organisations and universities, small and medium enterprises (55% of total partners) and large scale industry. These are: Wageningen UR – Food & Biobased Research, Wageningen University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Fotosintetica & Microbiologica S.r.l., BioTopic, Norsker Investigationes, Proviron, Evodos B.V., Cellulac, Feyecon Development and Implementation B.V., Neste Oil Corporation, JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH and IDconsortium SL. (see also http://www.fuel4me.eu)

List of Websites:
www.fuel4me.eu

Related information

Contact

Dorinde Kleinegris, (Scientist Microalgae)
Tel.: +31 317 480324
E-mail
Record Number: 183965 / Last updated on: 2016-06-09
Information source: SESAM