Power Algae: turning CO2 from waste into resource with microalgae
Microalgae for extraction of valuable compounds for feed and chemical industry. Through the ALLIANCE the case owner got access to valuable information about microalgae cultivation.
Power Algae was launched in 2013 by two doctoral students at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Since 2015 the company has been actively collaborating with the Estonian University of Life Sciences, and this brought it to a new level. So far, Power Algae has been positioning itself as technology developer, but there is an intention to expand the scope and make main business out of using the technology that has been developed.
Initially the focus was put on developing equipment for doing research about microalgae, but this work led to search for industrial applications. The technology that is under development today is focused on sequestrating carbon dioxide directly from flue gas and using it for accelerating growth of microalgae in the photobioreactors. The microalgae that grows inside these ‘biological filters’ is used for extracting several valuable compounds for feed and chemical industry. The technology runs according to the principles of industrial symbiosis and takes into consideration the specifics of harsh Nordic climatic conditions. The system includes several sensors that allow remote monitoring.
The case aims to provide a microalgae research photobioreactor, which can be upscaled and used in a meta-system of industrial symbioses composed of CO2 sequestration by microalgae, and valorization its produce as a component for nutrients, cosmetics, etc. The first lab-scale photobioreactor prototypes are already in use at the Estonian University of Life Sciences and lab-scale tests have proven initial feasibility. An upscaled pilot is in planning in collaboration with an Estonian oil-shale oil producer, who could use the technology for both increasing their profitability and reducing their negative environmental impact.
The following needs of Power Algae were addressed to the ALLIANCE:
- Help in clarifying market and defining customer needs
- Partners in phases of the algae value chain that follow the algae farming in bioreactor: companies who process algae biomass, who provide algae biomass processing equipment/technology
- Partners, who use algae-based ingredients for developing high-end products
- Strategic partners for internationalization
- Funding for growth and expansion
The economically viable solutions to the great challenges can only be achieved by collaborative and interdisciplinary networks. We are advised on issues related to microalgae cultivation and receive business development from the ALLIANCE".-
Power Algae joined the ALLIANCE mentoring programme in 2016. The main mentors in the network are Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), who advises predominantly on issues related to microalgae cultivation, and Tartu Biotechnology Park (TBP) that provides support in business development and offers networking-matchmaking opportunities.