Economic and ecological evaluation of a biorefinery approach for the production of carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids with microalgae in Germany
The overall objective of the FuTuReS project is the economic and ecological characterization of a process for the co‑production of the carotenoid fucoxanthin and the omega 3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) with the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum on an industrial scale in Germany.
For this purpose, the microalgae were previously cultivated photoautotropically in flat‑panel airlift photobioreactors (FPA) at Fraunhofer CBP in Leuna. The intended evaluation is based on existing, empirical process data. It should take into account not only potential value‑added chains for the use of recycling and nutrient‑rich streams of residual materials, such as nitrogen, phosphate, and CO2, but also the supply of surplus electricity from biogas and photovoltaic plants in agriculture. Especially when there is a lack of light, e.g., at night, the excess energy can be used in particular for additional artificial illumination to significantly increase biomass productivity in photobioreactors.
P. tricornutum is a diatom that, due to its cultivation conditions, is particularly suitable for phototrophic production in Central European latitudes. Its high EPA, fucoxanthin, and protein content ensures a very high added overall value.