• Microscope image of round red cells of the freshwater chlorophyte Haematococcus pluvialis


Algae for biomass applied to the production of added value compounds

ABACUS gathers two large industries, three algal small / medium-sized enterprises and four research and technology organisations. It aims at a business-oriented and technology-driven development of a new algal biorefinery process, thereby bringing to the market innovative algae-based ingredients for high-end applications, spanning from algal terpenes for fragrances to long-chain terpenoids (carotenoids) for nutraceuticals and cosmetic activities.

One key objectives of ABACUS is to obtain more than 10% photosynthates of targeted terpenoids. For this purpose, ABACUS selects and optimizes unique algae strains from three large culture collections owned by project partners. Moreover, ABACUS focuses on optimising cultivation steps and mastering production of target products by online monitoring and automated control of photobioreactors with the development of specific sensors for terpenes and for the parameters relevant to terpenoid production (light, PO2, PCO2, nutrients). ABACUS investigates the fractionation steps to provide green low-cost downstream processing with a view to reduce operational expenses of the whole production line. Life cycle analysis and techno-economic analysis are fundamental guidelines of ABACUS’s developments to ensure that technologies and products are economically and environmentally sustainable. Applicability of targeted ingredients is assessed by the industrial partners (SMEs and large industries with established access to markets) considering cosmetic and nutraceutical applications.

ABACUS aims to demonstrate biorefining processes allowing valorisation of up to 95% of the algal biomass into high-value ingredients and by-products. EU standards and market regulations associated to innovative bioprocesses and new ingredients are reviewed in order to demonstrate the acceptability of the ABACUS biorefinery.

The key advantage of ABACUS lies in its business-oriented workplan, gathering key players along the whole product development chain and incorporating advanced technologies for efficient growth and fractionation of microalgae.

SAMS main role is to select the algae for further characterisation, based upon previous experience. SAMS also characterises species and potentially modifies strains via directed mutagenesis in order to improve growth, product yields, and the overall commercialisation of algal biosynthesis of high-value compounds.