Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Magazine

Danish project lets algae convert CO2 into protein

  • Mette Skovbjerg, head of Symbiosis Center Denmark and press officer Peer Olander Noergaard. (Photo: EUobserver)

The world is under increasing pressure to perform, with climate change and the demands of an ever-growing population putting a stranglehold on natural resources. Yet, nature may also offer some solutions.

For example, the green algae that feed on CO2 and then convert it into protein.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • "We are at a cross-roads with this research", says PHD student Patrick Uldall Noerregaard from DTU Aqua (Photo: EUobserver)

The latest experiment at Symbiosis Center Denmark is all about exploring the industrial potential of these micro-organisms.

"We are at a crossroads with this research", says PHD student Patrick Uldall Noerregaard from DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

He studies the processes at the Algae Reactor in Kalundborg, a project funded by the EU's 7th Framework Programme.

The reactor looks like an oversized greenhouse from the outside and is certainly full of green stuff inside.

The algae float in bubbling CO2-infused water, encapsulated in 10-metre-tall glass panels which are kept under close scrutiny by the researchers.

"We have nick-named it the Algae Cathedral", says Peer Olander Noergaard, press officer of Symbiosis Center Denmark.

And there is certainly something awe-inspiring about the reactor hall, full of beautiful green colours in multiple shades.

The panels revolve in the sunlight, to ensure that the algae are exposed to the light in precisely the most optimal way for growth.

Temperatures are vital and are monitored by the researchers, who also keep a keen eye on the pH values, which can either accelerate or stop the entire process.

The algae plant experiments are also about purifying waste water from the nearby Novozymes biotech industry, which produces enzymes that, for instance, are used in the textile or food industries.

The algae use up CO2 in combination with the light and produce valuable biomass in the process, which can be used in the manufacture of high-value products. For instance, some algae have a high content of Omega 3 fatty acids, similar to the food that fish eat in the wild. It follows, therefore, that feeding fish with these algae give the fish a better taste when cooked.

Calculations show that a production price of 400 Danish kroner per kilo can make it a profitable business.

If the process extends into the distillation of carotenoid astaxanthin, then it is not unreasonable to assume prices in the range of €20,000 per kilo.

Astaxanthin is the pigment that naturally colours salmon, prawns and pelicans pink and is used widely in the cosmetic industry for skin care.

This story was originally published in EUobserver's 2015 Regions & Cities Magazine.

Click here to read previous editions of our Regions & Cities magazine.

Opinion

Europe’s Kodak moment and the circular economy

If I were a business leader, I would be on high alert to ensure my company not become the cassette tape, correction fluid, or photographic film manufacturer of our time.

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

While the regional funds account for a full third of the EU budget, they are somewhat under-reported. EUobserver's latest edition of the Regions & Cities magazine looks at the EU's cohesion policy.

Magazine

A tourist's guide to EU-funded Amsterdam

When it comes to projects paid for by EU regional funds, most people think of roads in Romania or bridges in Bulgaria. But richer regions also receive money. EUobserver takes you on a tour of selected projects in Amsterdam.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Magazine

A deep dive into the EU regional funds

While the regional funds account for a full third of the EU budget, they are somewhat under-reported. EUobserver's latest edition of the Regions & Cities magazine looks at the EU's cohesion policy.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us