The 7th Framework Program (7FP) for research and technological development is the EU´s primary instrument for funding research and demonstration activities from 2007 through 2013 (Decision No. 1982/2006/EC). It brings together all research-related EU initiatives under one roof, providing the structure for reaching the EU goals of growth, competitiveness and employment. The total 7FP budget for the seven-year period amounts to €51 billion (US$69 billion). EU Member States and the European Parliament have earmarked a total of €2.35 billion (US$3 billion) over the duration of 7FP for funding energy-related projects.
This allocated budget is split on an equal basis between research projects to be managed by the Directorate General for Research and demonstration projects that are managed by the Directorate General for Energy (DG ENER). Since the inception of 7FP, DG ENER has issued calls for demonstration projects that put particular emphasis on biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass and addresses practically all value chains from biomass resources to a final marketable biofuel.
The 7FP Call Topic of 2010 is aimed at large scale demonstration of biofuels production from algae with ambitious, but achievable targets:
Furthermore the consortia needed to be led by industrial organizations and the projects had to demonstrate the complete sustainable value chain from algae species selection to biofuel production and use in the market. The call was restricted to only projects in which the carbon dioxide (CO2) supply for the algae cultivation was provided by renewable applications, excluding CO2 generated from fossil fuel installations.
In total, 14 proposals were submitted by various industrial groups, from which the three projects described below were shortlisted for support. These contracts will be signed in early 2011. The total cost for the three projects is about €31 million (US$42 million) and the corresponding EC contribution amounts to about €20 million (US$27 million).
BIOFAT is a microalgae-to-biofuel FP7 demonstration project that integrates the entire value chain of algae process from optimized growth, starch and oil accumulation, to downstream processing (biorefinery) including biofuel production . The BIOFAT approach integrates and scales up complementary technologies and skills from each partner into a global multidisciplinary project.
The value chain of biofuel production from microalgae will be tested on a large scale during the project with three main targets:
Sustainability is the key factor for biofuel from algae production, considering both environmental (e.g. use of marine strains to limit freshwater use) and economic (e.g. low energy consumption) sustainability.
The project will be implemented in two phases:
The technologies adopted in the pilot plant will be fully representative of the solutions that will characterize the DEMO facility.
The two pilots represent a strategic added value for the following industrial phase, and they will enable a full feasibility study of algae biofuels in EU. The 10 hectare plant aims to demonstrate how generating biofuels from algae technologies will work and show that the “microalgae production platform” can operate with positive economical balance through a biorefinery process where added value compounds are produced.
The BIOFAT consortium is characterized by a unique mix of skills that represent the actual state of the art in terms of knowledge and expertise in the field of microalgae production and applications, including biofuels. All partners have consolidated know-how in these fields, as they have worked on these topics for nearly two decades. The scientific and technological challenges will include:
The BIOFAT Project Diagram
BIOFAT consists of ten partners coming from 7 different countries:
The All-Gas project aims to demonstrate the sustainable production of low-cost biofuels from algae, based on the reuse of wastewater and other residues, taking into account that:
Therefore, the All-Gas project is based on the recycle of nutrients, energy harvesting and CO2 generation from wastewater and its residues. After anaerobic pre-treatment to maximize biogas production and gain CO2, the wastewater is then further purified by the growth of algal biomass. The harvested algae will be processed for the extraction of oils and other valuable byproducts, while the remaining algal biomass is subsequently transformed into biomethane, CO2 and minerals, together with other residual biomass from wastewater and/or agricultural residues.
A fundamental challenge to biofuel generation is the productivity of low cost bioreactors, in the form of raceway ponds. This project will introduce a newly patented device, the Light Enhancement Factor (LEF), to significantly increase the biomass yield of raceway ponds, while maintaining their positive energy balance.
If the target productivity of the algae cultures – 3,000 kg of dry solids per day (DS/d) – is reached, with algal oil content of 20%, enough biodiesel to run about 200 cars could be generated. The bio-methane production from the anaerobic digestion of raw wastewater and biomass residues should yield an equivalent amount of bio-methane for another 200 cars. In addition, wastewater flow of around 5,000 m3 per day would be treated to a level allowing for reuse, minimizing emissions, energy consumption and wastewater process residues.
The project will be implemented in two stages at a wastewater treatment plant in Southern Spain, starting with a prototype facility to gather the main design parameters for the full-scale plant during the first two years.
Once the viability and sustainability of the concept has been verified in full-scale ponds of 1,500 m2 each, 10 hectares will be developed and operated during the following three years.
The All-Gas Project Diagram
Aqualia, the third largest private water and wastewater company in the world, leads the consortium of the All-Gas project, consisting of seven partners and supported by a scientific advisory board to provide the knowledge and experience for this challenging endeavor. Other partners include:
The overall objective of InteSusAl (Demonstration of integrated and sustainable microalgae cultivation with biodiesel validation) is to demonstrate an integrated approach to generate biofuels from algae in a sustainable manner on an industrial scale.
More precisely, the project will optimise the production of algae by both heterotrophic and phototrophic routes and will demonstrate integration of these production technologies (Raceway, Photo-BioReactor and Fermentation) to achieve the algae cultivation targets of 90-120 dry tonnes per hectare by annum. The project will select algae species and cultivation technologies to attain algal oil with a suitable lipid profile for biodiesel production and will validate this selection through conversion of the extracted oil into biodiesel to meet standard specifications.
The sustainability of this demonstration, in terms of both economic and environmental (closed carbon loop) implications will be considered across the whole process; including optimum use of algal biomass resources to enable commercialisation.
The InteSusAl consortium is composed of six partners coming from four European countries, whose complementary expertise will enable to successfully deliver the expected results:
The InteSusAl Project Diagram