Micro-algae cultures for the production of bioenergy and bioproducts

Projet en cours

Project affiliated to:
Project leader BIOCAR
Industrials partners IDEE Aquaculture, Air Liquide, Naskeo
Research partners IFREMER, INSA Toulouse, Green University, CEA Marcoule, SUPAGRO, INRIA, Tour du Valat
Budget 6 800 K€
Cofinanceur publics FUI (Single Interministerial Fund) and Regional Authorities
Year of labeling 2009 - Joint Certification by Pôles Trimatec & Derbi
Year of co-financing 2010

In an effort to continue the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, remediation of industrial C02 and preservation of the environment, the need to find new resources for the production of bioenergy and bio-products is inescapable.

In addition, the coastal wetlands of southern France have an ecosystem and an environment which are particularly favourable to the development of algae farming: large areas available which are now available for conversion and a history of salt production (Salins du Midi), and the largest industrial CO2 production area nearby (Fos sur Mer) and the natural presence of a microalgae (Dunaliella salina) with high potential value.

Based on these two observations, the Salinalgue project aims to cultivate and create a bio-refinery for native microalgae (Dunaliella salina) on a large-scale in an open environment on unused salt marshes in order commercialize various bio-products including a next generation biofuel with high performance in terms of production yield per hectare and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Molecules with a high added-value (Beta-carotene, Omega 3) will also be developed from microalgae, as well as protein for fish feed as a substitute for fishmeal. Dunaliella salina (DS) is a native species of micro-algae that grows spontaneously and particularly favours very salty lagoon environments.

The project includes a thorough study of these microalgae in order to understand cultivation and harvest in an open environment. In addition, the project focuses on DS biorefining; the objective is to explore and experiment with the extraction of compounds contained in these microalgae to fully exploit the potential of the biomass produced. Following a Go/NoGo, a scale experimental demonstration phase will be conducted to validate the technical and economic feasibility of any pre-industrial production chain: cultivation (demonstration across 10ha), harvest, extraction, and development of value. At the end of the project a progressive industrialization over 6000ha is planned from 2015.

In order to ensure the success of the industrial and environmental development of this new industry, Salinalgue relies on its many advantages:

  •  a solid and significant scientific basis (extremely detailed ANR projects and bibliography about DS)
  • scientific excellence through its consortium partners, the study of bioremediation1 of industrial C02
  • innovations in tackling the principal barriers (cultivation, harvesting and extraction)
  • minimization of environmental impact (life cycle analysis)
  • a search for economic balance in the sector with minimized production costs (open ponds)
  • a total value from the microalgae (biorefinery concept).

Finally, the maintenance of the biodiversity and activity of the coastal wetlands that the salt marshes epitomize is also one of the major interests and strengths of the project.

Environmental, economic and social sustainability is at the heart of the SALINALGUE project.