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Newsletter December 2020

The IDEA consortium collaborates on different aspects of microalgae value chains in NWEurope. This requires intense interactions and exchange of samples between partners as well as with different external stakeholders. In that perspective, 2020 was a challenge due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite the closing of some labs and difficulties to meet stakeholders and exchange large algae quantities between countries, the consortium adapted to the situation and important progress was made. Meetings and IDEA workshops were organised as on-line events. Algae growth and algae processing experiments were performed as much as possible and time was dedicated to convert results into to scientific papers and progresswith economic and logistic evaluations along the value chain.

To compensate the unavoidable delays, a project prolongation till October 2021 was granted by Interreg for the IDEA project. The date for final IDEA dissemination event is postponed untill July 6th 2021. We hope to have the opportunity to welcome you at this event to share IDEA results!


Online IDEA general meeting in June 2020

The general consortium meeting was organised as an on-line event, which proved to be a very efficient  way to connect all partners and the Interreg officer. Each partner presented the progress made and during WP discussion sessions actions for the next period were defined.

IDEA Farmer's webinar in September 2020

In the search for new protein crops, many crops are put forward. One of those interesting crops is algae. Most people are familiar with macro-algae, seaweeds, and may have eaten them sushi wrapping sheets. Less known to the general public are the micro-algae, single-celled organisms of which Spirulina and Chlorella are the best known. These are often offered in powder and tablet form as a dietary supplement.

With the aim to emphasize on microalgae as potential new crop for farmers, IDEA partners Centrale Supélec (France) and Innovation Support Center (Belgium) organized two farmer workshops, one in French (16/9/2020) and another in English (17/9/2020). The topics covered were:
  • Introduction and explanation of the IDEA project goals;
  • Market potential of the microalgae with also attention to the added value of microalgae in food or food supplements;
  • Possibilities of circular production of micro-algae;
  • The economic side of algae production;
  • Cultivation systems & semi-industrial production of micro-algae;
  • Practical applications of micro-algae such as human and animal nutrition and certification.
More than 80 participants from all over the world were brought together, from the USS over Europe and Africa to Australia and China. The diversity of feedback received is summarized in the word tree above. We made the presentations available on our website for those who were not able to attend.

Open call for evaluation of IDEA algae biomass

Within the IDEA project, biomass of different algae species is being generated and processed to multiple biomass types for use by IDEA partners in application tests towards feed, food and cosmetics.  Part of this biomass can also be exchanged with external industrial entities who wish to screen the potential of certain biomass types for their specific application. Upon availability of biomass and complementarity of the test types, the biomass can be provided free of charge in exchange for sharing the test results with the IDEA consortium.

The algae species considered in IDEA comprise Nannochloropsis, Porphyridium, Chloromonas, Chlorella and Scenedesmus. The biomass types comprise dried (deslated) whole cells, dried disrupted (desalted) calls, oil extracts, defated algae biomass, protein enriched extracts and sugar enriched extracts.

Is your company interested in receiving IDEA algae biomass for performing specific application tests in exchange for the test results? Please contact the project coordinator Leen Bastiaens for exchanging your specific interests.

Short updates

  • Algae biomass fractions with interesting bioactive properties were selected for pet food animal trials. The required biomass fractions were tailored by VITO (Belgium) and TEAGASC (Ireland). TEAGASC formulated algae fraction in snacks for pets, while Feed Design Lab (The Netherlands) formulated whole meal feed. Both partners initiated animal pet trials in 2020.

  • In the algae growth and harvest Plant Sunbuilt(Belgium), VITO and Thomas More invested to adapt the growth and harvesting infrastructure. The purpose was to operate the 1500L PBRs with a semi-automated harvest of to have cooled wet algae storage (2 m²) available. The adapted infrastructure was evaluated and finetuned in 2020, and is ready for intensive use in 2021.

  • The univeristy of Twente (The Netherlands) focusses within IDEA on the design and construction of a device to capture CO2  from air for release in reactors to support algae growth. In 2020, a compact pilot device was finalised and was installed in the Sunbuilt (Belgium) for algae growth tests in collaboration with Thomas More and VITO.

  • IDEA results were presented at ALgaEurope 2020 which was organised as an on-line event with pre-recorded presentations.Three IDEA presentation are available on the IDEA website and provide details on:
    • Growth of cold apated algae
    • A membrane based harvesting ad water re-use technology (MAF-technology)
    • Wet preservation of Nannochloropsis & Porphyridium biomass
  • Two scientific papers on IDEA results on wet preservation of biomass were published in 2020. Have a look at them on our website

Upcoming events

  • July 6th 2021: Final IDEA event

Any questions?