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JPSS Jülich Plant Science Seminar Series:
Prof. René H. Wijffels, Bioprocess Engineering, Wageningen University, the Netherlands

20.01.2015 13:00 Uhr
20.01.2015 14:00 Uhr
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Gebäude 06.2 IBG-2, Seminarraum 406, 2.Stock

"Biorefinery of microalgae"





Microalgae are considered one of the most promising feedstocks for sustainable production of commodities such as food, feed, chemicals, materials and biofuels (1,2). The technology for production is still immature, but if developed it is expected that biomass can be produced at commercial scale for a cost price less than 0,68 €/kg dry biomass (3). If the different biomass components are collected the total value for commodities in algal biomass is higher than 1.65 €/kg dry biomass (4).

We started the project AlgaePARC ( AlgaePARC is a pilot facility with which we intend to bridge the gap between basic research and demonstration projects. In AlgaePARC we will compare state of the art technologies and develop new reactor concepts and process control strategies.

As a follow up projects are started to develop technology for disruption of algal biomass and fractionation of the biomass into different compounds with maintenance of their functionality. The technologies we develop should be mild, effective with respect to extraction efficiency and product purity and require a minimal amount of energy and costs. Algal biomass produced at AlgaePARC will be used for biorefining.

“Biorefinery” is a facility that integrates cell disruption, extraction, conversion and separation technologies of biomass. The biorefinery strategy is analogous to today's petroleum refinery, in which multiple fuel products and chemicals are produced from crude petroleum. Biorefinery includes the selective isolation of products (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids) from crude biomass (5).

The co-production of multiple products from microalgae is a new challenge. Research and development needs to be done to explore scalable mild cell disruption and extraction technologies that keep the functionality of the different cell components.It is our objective to develop an integrated, multiple-product biorefinery for valuable specialties from algae for application in food, aquafeeds and non-food products (6). The focus is on development and integration of mild cell disruption and environmentally friendly extraction and fractionation processes including functionality testing and product formulation.


1.         Wijffels R.H., Barbosa M.J. (2010) An outlook on microalgal biofuels. Science. 379: 796-799

2.         Wijffels R.H., Janssen M., Barbosa M.J. (2011) Stand alone biofuel production from algae – Crystal ball 2011. Microbial Biotechnol. 4: 132-134

3.         Norsker N.H., Barbosa M.J., Vermuë M.H., Wijffels R.H. (2010) Microalgal production – a close look at the economics. Biotechnology Advances. 29: 24-27

4.         Wijffels R.H., Barbosa M.J., Eppink M.H. (2010) Microalgae for the production of  bulk chemicals and biofuels. Biofuels, Bioproducts, & Biorefining, 4: 287-295

5.         Vanthoor-Koopmans M., Wijffels R.H., Barbosa M.J., Eppink M.H.M. (2013) Biorefinery of microalgae for food and fuel. Bioresour. Technol. 135: 142–149

6.         Draaisma B.B., Wijffels R.H., Slegers P.M., Brentner L.B., Roy A., Barbosa M.J. (2013) Food commodities from microalgae. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 24: 169-177