Enterprise Europe Network

Greek start-up offers vertical microalgal harvesting solution which produces CO2-neutral, high-value bioingredient-based next-generation proteins

Country of origin:
Country: 
GREECE
Opportunity:
External Id: 
TOGR20200319001
Published
23/03/2020
Last update
26/03/2020
Expiration date
27/03/2021

Keywords

Partner keyword: 
Solar/Thermal energy
Carbon capture and energy
Biobased high-performance materials
Downstream Processing
Aquaculture
Food and feed ingredients
Energy Storage
Health food
Other pollution and recycling related
Marine aquaculture
Freshwater aquaculture
Manufacture of other food products n.e.c.
Research and experimental development on biotechnology
Other research and experimental development on natural sciences and engineering
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Summary

Summary: 
Greek AgroTech & CleanTech company offers an algal photobioreactor synthesis system which captures and utilizes CO2 from industries to produce cheaper, carbon-neutral, bioingredient-based products/ proteins (solutions). The system enables food, feed and pharma industries to manufacture algal-based premium-end products. Technical agreement with large-scale C02 emitters and/ or research cooperation agreement are sought.

Description

Description: 

The Greek company is a purpose-driven hybrid AgroTech & CleanTech company producing cheaper and more efficiently carbon-neutral, high value, bioingredient-based products/ proteins (solutions), enabling food, feed and pharma industries to manufacture and exploit high-value algal-based premium-end products.

Algae are mostly aquatic fast-developing microorganisms, well known for their high photosynthetic capacities. In the past years, the multi-functional beneficial qualities of their various strains and components have attracted researchers and industries’ growing interest. Indicatively, microalgae are used in the livestock and fish food sectors, as human dietary supplements, and in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Algae reproduction relies on photosynthesis employing light, water, CO2 as well as nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur). Its reproductive cycle lasts 2 months in total and it enables daily harvesting of small algal biomass volumes, after the first 2 weeks of systematic cultivation. The main reproductive systems employed are the open ponds (e.g. lakes) or the closed systems (photobioreactor or shortly PBR). Open ponds are more cost-effective to deploy and conserve. On top of that, they are open-air and exposed to various contaminating elements and viruses. This condition makes algae culture vulnerable to impurity, pollution etc., hindering proper reproduction.

The Greek start-up is a recipient of several innovation prizes (including an H2020 SME Instrument Seal of Excellence), has developed an algal photobioreactor synthesis system through the capture and utilization of CO2 from large-scale emitters such as heavy industries and refineries. The system has been successfully lab-tested and is currently carrying out its first grand-scale pilot, promising to deliver 50.000 liters of harvested algal biomass, which will include around 5.5 tons of dry weight premium biomass, including 60% proteins (Docosahexaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 fat) as well as lipids and carotenoids.
It is an enclosed, vertical, fully controlled technology, which transparently, safely and healthily produces high value algal-based products, securing continuous production in an energy-efficient way. It is deployed in natural conditions of high solar energy supply, without use of artificial lighting sources. Additionally, it does not need cooling mechanisms to avoid crop-overheating. That way, the system secures high levels of added-value algae production in a more cost-effective way. Through protein production the system can contribute to solving dietary problems caused by human overpopulation and can also help fight climate change, as it complies to the principles of sustainable development and circular bio-based (life cycle) economy.

The Greek start-up is interested in technical cooperation agreement with different types of partners such as CO2 emitting companies, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, and/ or research cooperation agreement with universities and research institutions.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
A small, marketable biomass amount is expensive and environmentally vulnerable to extract. The system allows extraction of bigger quantity & higher quality proteins/ algae bio-products in an energy & cost-effective way, and protects the crop. It contributes to green economy and allows buyers to cut their CO2 emissions and benefit from bio-products’ manufacturing and sale. The method, in dry and warm climate, provides ingredients of large diversity in biochemistry and novel biomolecules. Commercial exploitation could be valuable for several reasons. First, because this is a nutrient-dense organism with high protein levels (almost 50-55%), including enzymes. Secondly, the PBR technology is compatible with providing large volume of purified biomass. Third, it is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food & Drug Administration (no endotoxins/infectious agents, no health risks). Finally, it is a common species in research with available genomics & metabolomics resources. The offered method uses a potassium carbonate solution (K2CO3) with additives catalyzing the rapid conversion of CO2 into bicarbonate protons (or vice versa). The method can use indigenous Chlamydomonas strain for producing phycocyanin, which can be used in the next generation sunscreens. The company’s own downstream processing technologies for phycocyanin/ biomolecules’ extraction provides efficient disruption of cells, enzymes’ extraction, fractionation, ultrafiltration and aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS). Additionally, it provides microalgae protein-enriched fractions characterization with Poly-Ethylene Glycol (PEG)-phosphate aqueous system, labelled as Polyethylene Glycol 1500, including 20% phosphate supplemented with sodium chloride (NaCl). It has the highest selectivity for phycocyanin and sufficient purification (5-fold) with high recovery (>90%) is achieved. The system can produce 50mg of purified phycocyanin per gram of microalgae.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Prototype available for demonstration

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
Technical cooperation agreement and/ or research cooperation agreement are sought. Specifically, the Greek start up looks for: - Technical cooperation agreement with strategic partners (e.g. energy companies) emitting more than 10 tons of CO2 per day (around 3.500 tons/year). The system will capture and utilize emissions returning to the partner high-value algal products for commercial use, so that they have a measurable, beneficial social and environmental impact with a financial return. Pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries are also sought. - Research cooperation with academic and research institutions in order to explore optimal uses of algal strains, e.g. in the animal feed additives sector, or investigating the use capacity of yet unexplored alga components.

Type and size

Cooperation task: 
University,R&D Institution,>500 MNE,251-500,>500