Project

Microalgae Biorefinery: developing mild, scalable technologies

Microalgae are able to accumulate various products like lipids, proteins and carbohydrates. When all these products are successfully recovered, the economic potential of microalgae production becomes higher than when we are only focussing on a single product (e.g. lipids). To obtain all the intracellular products, mild, scalable and sustainable biorefinery technologies need to be developed.

In this project the focus is to develop innovative, mild and scalable harvesting and cell disruption technologies. Besides looking to the development of the unit operations itself, also the integration of the individual unit operation is a gravitation point in this project.

Aim

The goal of this project is to successfully disrupt the cells of flocculated microalgae in such a way, that all the potential products are kept in tact. If this is possible, than it might be possible to integrate upstream cultivation with downstream biorefinery.

Figure 1: Potential value after biorefinery per tonne of algal biomass (Wijffels et al.; 2010)
Figure 1: Potential value after biorefinery per tonne of algal biomass (Wijffels et al.; 2010)
Figure 2: Harvested biomass using polymeric flocculants
Figure 2: Harvested biomass using polymeric flocculants

Thesis projects

There are several possibilities to do a BSc or MSc thesis within this project. Depending on your interests, there are both experimental (lab work) but also modelling subjects available.

Possible thesis subjects could be:

  • Flocculant properties: ‘Effect of medium salinity on the flocculant behaviour’
  • Harvesting: ‘Effect of biomass and flocculant concentration on the flocculation performance’
  • Cell disruption: ‘Pulsed electric field as a novel cell disruption technique’
  • Simulation: ‘Simulating a large scale process: from harvesting to cell disruption’

Acknowledgement

This work is performed within the TKI AlgaePARC Biorefinery program with financial support from the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs in the framework of the TKI BioBased Economy under contract nr. TKIBE01009.