EU research project on algae-based polymers: SPLASH – Sustainable PoLymers from Algae Sugars and Hydrocarbons
Microalgae are a promising new renewable feedstock for chemicals and plastics. They can be cultivated on non-arable land and can yield valuable compounds for chemical industries. If microcalgae can be sustainably utilized on an industrial scale this will provide new opportunities for decreased dependency on fossil feedstocks and potentially contribute to climate mitigation and reduced pressure on land resources.
However, before we achieve this, a lot of research is necessary to better understand, cultivate and process microalgae, which is what we are all about in SPLASH. In 4.5 years of EU funded research, SPLASH will develop processes to produce and recover of hydrocarbons and (exo) polysaccharides from algae, as well as to further convert them into polymers. SPLASH will deliver the knowledge, tools and technology needed to establish a new industrial sector, i.e. industrial biotechnology based on algae and/or algal genes to produce polyesters and polyolefins.
SPLASH covers the whole process chain from optimized biomass production to product development and exploitation. We will investigate two types of microalgae: the green alga Botryococcous braunii and the green microalgae: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to which the unique hydrocarbon and polysaccharides producing genes from Botryococcus will be transferred. Further steps will then aim at conducting biomass cultivation on pilot scale, extracting the valuable compounds and processing them into value-added polymers and chemicals. A market assessment will make sure that the most promising end applications will be selected for exploitation.
The project comprises twenty partners, SMEs and large enterprises as well as universities and research institutes.