Sunday

18th Aug 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. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

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. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us