VALUEMAG newsletter issue 2



Valuable Products from Algae Using new Magnetic Cultivation and Extraction Techniques


Progress of VALUEMAG

According to the grant agreement, NTUA has progress on the production of magnetic nanoparticles by CVD and flame pyrolisis

Operating flame pyrolysis and production of nanoparticles
Synthesis of magnetic nanoparticles is an important step when an industrial application of such material is intended. A variety of techniques are available at lab scale, in the frame of Valuemag project two methods have been chosen that guarantee fast synthesis and at the same time a relatively low cost. These techniques are Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) and Flame Spray Pyrolysis. The basic principle in both methods is the same: provide high level of energy to precursor reagents, in general salts of iron (Fe) and chloride (Cl), which literally splits the reagent salts in free atoms that, in control atmosphere, aggregate in iron oxide (magnetic nanoparticles) and other molecules that are subsequently removed.The research team at NTUA has successfully synthesize iron oxide (Fe2O3) nanoparticles via CVD which provides high quality nanoparticles by vaporizing at high temperature precursor reagents. The synthesized nanostructure, characterized by a high purity, homogeneity and remarkable morphology (crystals with 10-20 nm diameters) have been further studied by means of structural analysis.Flame spray pyrolysis have also been used. In this case the energy is provided by the combustion of a mix of
fuel gases that generates a flame with temperature between 500 and 700°C. Directly on flame a liquid solution of iron precursors is injected (spray) at pressure. Due to the high temperature of the flame the iron salts are instantly split, and nanoparticles of iron oxide are formed. By playing with the flame length, precursors pressure and distance from the flame morphology of nanoparticles can be controlled. Nanoparticles with a diameter of 50-100 nm have been successfully synthetized.Besides these two methods, the NTUA group have also developed a third one that is a modification of CVD. It consists in the use of microwave as a source of energy to split the precursors reagents. With this method nanoparticles covered with polyethylene glycol (PEG), a biocompatible material, with size of 10-20 nm have been produced.

Transformation of microalgae with nanoparticles   
In bioscience the introduction of any kind of material inside a given cell is named transformation or transfection. Generally, cells including microalgae do not absorbed nanoparticles spontaneously, so they must be somehow forced to uptake nanoparticles. Different methods can achieve a forced uptake. They can be divided in chemical and physical techniques. In Valuemag project we used a physical method named electroporation. I consist in exposing cells to a very short (few millisecond) pulse of high voltage electric current (1-3 kV). This fast electric shock temporary destabilizes the plasma membrane by creating pores (holes) through which nanoparticles may enter. After electrical treatment, microalgae cells are left in a special medium and condition that allow them to recover from the stress provoked by the treatment. By using this technique magnet cells have been produced. Nanoparticles of iron oxide with a diameter of 50-100 nm have been introduced in microalgae cells belonging to the Nannochloropsis genus. The presence of nanoparticles in the body cells is demonstrated by the fact that cells are attracted by a magnetic field created by a permanent magnet. Pictures are attached.

Partners & Work packages: What can we expect in the coming period

Work Package 1: NTUA

Within the work package 1, almost all tasks are accomplished. Nanoparticles are now easily produced with the methods proposed. Functionalization is now optimized to cover nanoparticles with a layer of lipid or sugar, that is necessary to make them biocompatible. Two prototype systems were fabricated for continuous production of magnetic cells via electroporation and for the separation of non-uptake nanoparticles from magnetic cells.

Work Package 2  NOMASICO
The prototype for the magnetic cultivation of magnetic system is in an advanced stage. A perfect location in Cyprus has been found, the design of the cone structure is accomplished and is now under construction. Also the external growth chamber is under construction. All part will be delivered to the warehouse for the final assembling in a few weeks.

Work Package 3 and 4
These work packages will start soon. There are no updates available yet. 

Work Package 5: PNO Consultants
WP5 focuses on Exploitation and Business Development activities. A stakeholder analysis is currently in progress to set the basis for these activities as well as to support the communication and dissemination actions. The analysis seeks to identify the most active for-profit (SMEs and large industries) and not-for-profit (universities and research institutes) actors from primary producers to product uptakers. In particular focus are organisations that are active in the cultivation and harvesting of microalgae (including technology providers), the extraction and purification of microalgae components and the production of microalgae-based food, cosmetic, health and nutraceutical products.

Work Package 6: NTUA & PNO Consultants
PNO Consultants has sent the communication and Dissemination plan at the end of January and several materials has been developed (website, brochures, leaflets, roll ups…). PNO Consultants continues to do the dissemination of VALUEMAG througt the Social Media and events like the BIOECONFIN (November 2017) or BIOKET (March 2018). Since the launch of the project, the social media strategy focuses on Twitter and LinkedIn. The strategy has specially expounded on LinkedIn with an engagement rate of 3.50% and more than 90 followers. The social media strategy communicates on the progress of VALUEMAG and several news related to VALUEMAG (microalgae, bioeconomy, photobioreactor…)


The Bio Events

VALUEMAG at the conference BIOKET

The bioeconomy is booming, filled with hope and full of opportunities for the future. Those are some of the conclusions that can be drawn from the successful BIOKET event, organised by the IAR, the French Bioeconomy ClusterFrom March 6 to 8, 2018, Strasbourg became the hub of the European bioeconomy scene, featuring important experts like Philippe Mengal, Anne Wagner and Yvan Le Henaff.

Filippo Martinelli, operations manager of PNO Innovation and PNO responsible for VALUEMAG, was invited to speak at the plenary session on the first day. Together with Philippe Mengal, Executive Director of Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking, he co-hosted the topic “Analysis and opportunities of Public-Private Partnerships and other European initiatives”, where he mentioned VALUEMAG as an example for some of the cases he mentioned. Filippo Martinelli expounded his analysis for the H2020 calls available in 2018 and also gave some valuable tips and tricks for successful bioeconomy H2020 proposals and for securing a H2020 grant.

Finally, PNO Consultants took the opportunities to interview 8 of the top players of the bioeconomy and ask them to share their vision of the sector and the challenges it will have to face.

Don’t miss the BIOECONFIN EAST 2018

Have you ever wondered what the term bioeconomy means and how it might be relevant to you? Do you know how innovative ideas in the AgriFood sector can take off, reach scale and receive EU funding? Join the BIOECONFIN EAST on 16 May 2018 in Bratislava for – a pitching and networking event – and learn more about the bioeconomy from the leading technology and funding experts.

During the event, you will have the chance to pitch your company and expertise to bio-experts and benefit from the networking opportunity. Participants delivering the best pitches will be invited to meet representatives of the three EU projects and the best pitch (chosen by a jury of bio experts) will receive a free EU grant scan service from BioLinX partner, PNO Consultants.

You shouldn’t miss this opportunity and register if you are:

  • Looking for ways to valorise the waste of your operations or interested in how you can contribute to the zero-waste operation of other industries
  • Seeking contact with researchers and industrial players in your sector from all over Europe
  • Interested in finding out more about the bioeconomy and about how you can benefit from being part of it
  • Own chemical or dairy locations in Eastern Europe, which could be potential replication sites for cutting-edge innovations realised in successful EU funded projects
  • Having innovative ideas and looking for partners and funding opportunities to realise them

View the event page

How to get in touch

If you want to learn more about the VALUEMAG project, visit the website, or follow the project on Twitterand LinkedIn.

To get in touch with one of the VALUEMAG partners, please e-mail or visit the consortium page.

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This project has received funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation under grant agreement No. 745695