Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Food & Beverage Analysis
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Algae Research Hope for Carbon-Negative Source of Food and Medicines

Published: Monday, February 17, 2014
Last Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Bright pink-orange microalgae found in salt lakes and coastal waters could become a renewable source of food, plastics, health products and fuel.

The University of Greenwich is leading a €10m international project to develop the microalga Dunaliella as a sustainable raw material that captures CO2 and can grow in some of the world’s harshest environments.

The project will build a biorefinery called the ‘D-Factory’ which is going to turn every part of the alga into something useful.

Algae are known for their ability to convert CO2 and sunlight into chemical energy five times faster than crops grown in soil. This particular alga is able to produce up to 80 per cent of its mass as fuel but is currently too expensive to cultivate for fuel alone. However it also produces a range of compounds of great interest in pharmaceutical, cosmetic, nutraceutical and other applications – and this may provide the solution.

Project leader Professor Pat Harvey, from the university’s Faculty of Engineering & Science, explains: “The race is on to develop a broader spectrum of compounds from algae, which can be turned into high-value products including food and medicines.

“If we can make algae biorefineries commercially viable, we will have developed a new industry founded on an environmentally-kind raw material which is also sustainable. The potential is huge.

“By 2020 these algae may also provide us with sustainable fuel. The science is there but at the moment the costs don’t add up.”

The research brings together 13 research institutions and businesses from eight countries, including world-leading experts in the biochemistry of Dunaliella, in large-scale cultivation of microalgae, in novel harvesting technologies and in bioprocessing development.

Together they aim to set a world benchmark for a biorefinery based on microalgae. Plans include the largest commercial cultivation of the single-cell organisms, in water raceways, lakes and photobioreactors.

The project hopes to demonstrate the business case for global investment in algae biorefineries, and in large-scale production of microalgae, within three years in order to raise investment for the first prototype D-Factory in Europe.

The Dunaliella alga has been chosen because it produces a wide range of compounds, appropriate for the ‘biorefinery’ concept which aims to use every element of a biomass. It can cope with extreme conditions, from salt caves in the Antarctic, to salt pans in the tropics. The high salinity and light intensity turns the microalgae orange by producing protective carotenoids. The pink-orange of many salt lakes containing Dunaliella is intensified by the presence of archaea, fellow single-celled organisms.

The D-Factory, or CO2 algae biorefinery, is a four-year collaborative project with funding from the European Union’s FP7 Cooperation Work Programme.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
Kitchen Utensils Can Spread Bacteria Between Foods
In a recent study researchers found that produce that contained bacteria would contaminate other produce items through the continued use of knives or graters—the bacteria would latch on to the utensils commonly found in consumers' homes and spread to the next item.
GMO Food Animals Should be Judged by Product, Not Process
In a world with a burgeoning demand for meat, milk and eggs, regulatory policies around the use of biotechnologies in agriculture need to be based on the safety and attributes of those foods rather than on the methods used to produce them, says a UC Davis animal scientist.
Acetaldehyde and Formaldehyde Content in Foods
Korean researchers have determined the content of the toxic and carcinogenic aldehydes, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, in a variety of food groups.
Increasing Vitamin D Supplementation
New study from ETH Zurich finds that elderly women should consume more vitamin D than previously recommended during the winter months.
IARC Monographs Evaluate Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat
Processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.
Nanoparticles in Foods Raise Safety Questions
Nanoparticles can make foods like jawbreaker candies brighter and creamier and keep them fresh longer. But researchers are still in the dark about what the tiny additives do once inside our bodies.
Arsenic Found in Many U.S. Red Wines
A new University of Washington study that tested 65 wines from America’s top four wine-producing states — California, Washington, New York and Oregon — found all but one have arsenic levels that exceed what’s allowed in drinking water.
Viruses Join Fight Against Harmful Bacteria
Engineered viruses could combat human disease and improve food safety.
Plastic for Dinner
Roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained man-made debris according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos