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Integrated multi-valorisation of algae into advanced materials and high added-value additives


Demonstrate the efficient operation of a full value chain based on micro- or macro-algae that produces valuable products (such as ingredients or additives, advanced materials, etc.).

Proposals should include:

  • demonstration of efficient production systems, coupled with relevant pre-treatment steps to achieve a stable intermediate product ready for the conversion steps; and
  • multi-valorisation of micro- or macro-algae into advanced materials and/or specialty products, or high-value bulk products for different application sectors.

Proposals should include fully efficient logistics solutions to minimise biomass losses and reduce costs associated with harvesting, first pre-treatment steps, storage and transportation of the algal biomass to the processing sites. Proposals should therefore achieve cost reductions in biomass production and harvesting in a sustainable way, since these are essential for the further development and scale-up of the algal bioeconomy sector. A thorough assessment of the ecosystem risk should be carried out if the harvest takes place in the wild. Resource efficiency should be high through valorising all fractions arising from biomass processing.

Proposals should specifically demonstrate the benefits versus the state-of-the-art and existing technologies. This could be done by providing evidence of new processing solutions and new products obtained. Proposals should include a techno-economic evaluation of the proposed concepts to check also the economic viability as compared with existing solutions, comprising also a supply chain analysis, a market analysis and appropriate business models.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL)1 at the end of the project should be 6-7. Proposals should clearly state the starting and target TRLs. The proposed work should enable the technology to achieve the target TRL within the timeframe of the project.

Proposals should include an environmental and economic assessment using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies. Proposals should also include a viability performance check of the developed process(es) based on available standards, certification, accepted and validated approaches.

Indicative funding: It is considered that proposals requesting a contribution of maximally EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

1 Technology Readiness Levels as defined in annex G of the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme:

In a context of growing demand for resources, sustainably capturing the potential of the seas, oceans and inland waters is critical for Europe. Micro- and macro-algae represent an additional source of biomass that can be used for various applications. They also have the advantage of a low land requirement. The production of farmed aquatic plants, including mostly macro-algae, is presently estimated at 23.8 million tonnes (wet weight 2012) and growing1.

Different cultivation systems to grow algae include open-sea, shallow-water, coastal areas and inland waters. There are specific systems for micro-algae like open ponds, photoreactors or bioreactors. Each system requires specific adaptation to its environment to maximise the biomass output, while minimising environmental impact (for example effluents, land use) and ensuring appropriate value chain logistics and conversion processes.

The specific challenge is to set up and operate a value chain for (micro- or macro-) algae production and logistics (harvest, transportation, storage) that can be used for their multi-valorisation into added-value chemicals and materials, through a cascading approach where applicable.

1 FAO, 2014, The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture

  • contribute to KPI 1: create at least 1 new cross-sector interconnection in bio-based economy clusters;
  • contribute to KPI 2: establish at least 1 new bio-based value chain;
  • contribute to KPI 6: create at least 1 new demonstrated consumer product based on bio-based chemicals and materials;
  • increase the competitiveness of European biomass producers and industry by supporting new jobs, growth and investment while ensuring environmental sustainability and a low environmental impact;
  • foster the inclusion of coastal or rural areas in a bio-based industry setting, increasing awareness of social and economic opportunities in marine regions and of actors in value chains based on aquatic biomass;
  • overall reduction of at least 10 % in the carbon footprint of the considered bio-based operation (from biomass cultivation through the core processing) as compared with the state-of-the-art (shown by an LCA taken up in one of the work packages).