VALUEMAG is a multidisciplinary and synergic project that seeks to develop a revolutionary solution for microalgae cultivation and harvesting in order to produce and purify high-value biomolecules in an affordable and environmentally-friendly manner. To reach this complex aim, a combination of diverse complementary competences and advanced technology will be put at the service of the project.
VALUEMAG is within the framework of Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU) funding, operating under Horizon2020, whose ambition is to implement a program of research and innovation activities in Europe that will assess the availability of renewable biological resources that can be used for the production of bio-based materials, and on that basis, support the establishment of sustainable bio-based value chains. More specifically, VALUEMAG answer to the call BBI-2016-R09 “Exploiting algae and other aquatic biomass for production of molecules for pharma, nutraceuticals, food additives and cosmetic applications”. Our project directly addresses the principal objectives of this call because:
- We propose a new innovative methodology based on the use of magnetic nanoparticles and a soft magnetic steel cone, issue of technologic engineering research, to cultivate algae and to purify the high-value products resulting from their metabolism
- Our advanced and revolutionary technology has been already tested at the small scale providing promising results
- The project is totally self-sustaining, eco-friendly and will provide socio-economic benefits for the people
- We address the dramatic reduction of microalgae production costs, allowing this technology to become a competitive durable alternative in the current market.
Those activities should be carried out through collaboration between stakeholders along the entire bio-based value chains, including primary production and processing industries, consumer brands, SMEs, research and technology centers and universities. VALUEMAG is the result of the collaboration of 11 members from 9 European countries who provide all the necessary background and expertise to achieve the objectives of the project.
The main objective of VALUEMAG is to develop an advanced magnetic method for micro-algae cultivation. Moreover, the implementation of this knowledge in focus on several fields such as the use of micro-algae for food, cosmetic and nutraceutical products.
Targeting the dramatic reduction of cost on micro-algae cultivation we have conceived a technique and a method, which has been recently filed for patent pending, able to cultivate algae in a minimum possible cost. The objectives of VALUEMAG project in this respect are:
- Set up a method to introduce superparamagnetic nanoparticles (SPANs) of 10 nm +2 nm diameter in micro-algae cell protoplasm of different microalgae species to obtain magnetically modified micro-algae (MAGMA)
- Immobilization of MAGMA using a magnetic gradient, due to a soft magnetic cone (SOMAC) of 6 m diameter and ~6 m height; SOMAC is activated with a moderate energy in the order of 10 kW per SOMAC, by using soft magnetic steels after proper welding, roughness forming, annealing and stress annihilation
- Develop economic & viable magnetic Photo-BioReactors (mPBR) for the fast-growing and easy harvesting of biomass, using the above-mentioned SOMAC covered with immobilized MAGMA and thin water layer with a minimal extra energy of additional 1 kW per SOMAC, targeting a total of 11 kW of energy requirement per SOMAC
Targeting the production of added-value products from harvested micro-algae, we set further objectives as:
- Implement methods for holistic food production from microalgae biomass
- Extraction of commercially valuable products (nutraceutical, cosmetics) from micro-algae biomass, including a selective magnetic separation method for better, faster and cheaper extraction process
- Develop CO2 capturing and water re-cycling methodologies based on mPBR
Then VALUEMAG will constitute an integrated complex system that will involve the transformation of microalgae by introducing SPANs and their immobilization in SOMAC surface in a closed-controlled system. This will allow fast microalgae biomass production at a low cost. In addition, SPAN based-methodology will make purification step simple, economic and accurate. At the same time, wastewater recycling and CO2 capturing systems will be implemented to profit on the environmental advantages that microalgae-based processes offer.
VALUEMAG project will develop an innovative technology able to cultivate algae in a minimum possible cost, much lower than the existing cost of micro-algae cultivation and will integrate this with other novel technologies in a pilot-scale bio-refinery. The new integrated production system will have the potential to increase the efficiency and the environmental sustainability of modern bio-refineries through lowering the cost of securing cleaner energy and sustain food security.
VALUEMAG’s impact and advantages concerning currently available technologies in micro-algae processes can be summarized in…
…Economic & competitive innovative technology
- More efficient use of lands, not necessary arable, thanks to our unique design of SOMAC: 1,000 m2 of SOMAC surface can offer an effective surface of 10,000 m2
- More efficient production of microalgae biomass. We have calculated that will easily reach 35 tons of pure de-watered microalgae biomass per year, face to 15-25 tons that are currently produced in algae industry.
- Drastic reduction of production costs thanks to our optimization of cultivation parameters and our innovative technology involving SOMAC and MAGMA. We will hopefully achieve the competitive price of 0.3€/kg of de-watered biomass produced, compared to current 4.9-6€, allowing the easy introduction of our system in the market.
- Drastic reduction of cultivating water needs, from 20-30 L/m2 for the current system’s consumption to our 0.1 L/kg, which would eventually be recycled.
- Energy consumption will be minimized to climate conditions inside the green house, pumping water, de-watering process and packaging and it is estimated at 750kW per day, which results in 3000 € / year.
- VALUEMAG will assure zero green-house gases emissions with the capacity of even reduce current CO2 atmospheric concentration thanks to photosynthetic metabolism.
- VALUEMAG will also allow for the cleaning from wastewater of persistent recalcitrant pollutants which are barely degradable otherwise.
…Socio-economic and development driving force
- Social benefits will arise from the development of new and innovative biomass production plants by supporting new job creation and outside investments in local EU communities. The required personnel for a micro-algae farm concerning automated large scale farms, is roughly estimated to 10 technicians per 100,000 m2.
- Thanks to the diversity of key professionals that will put their competence and knowledge at the service of the project, the revitalization of rural and marine Europe will be achieved together with the massive improvement of the innovation capacity and the integration of new knowledge.