Sunday

19th Nov 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • "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

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.

Magazine

History of the agencies (re)shuffle

The history of how EU agency seats were established shows that political deal-making, not logic or objective criteria, is the decisive factor.

EU medicines agency reveals new home preferences

Staff said they preferred to move to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan, or Vienna. More than 70% said they would quit if the agency moved to Athens, Bratislava, Bucharest, Helsinki, Malta, Sofia, Warsaw, or Zagreb.

Magazine

Frontex puts down roots in Poland

Frontex, the EU border and coastguard agency, will grow three-fold in five years. It will build a new office in the Polish capital despite rising tensions over migration policy between Warsaw and Brussels.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse