Algae in the broadest sense are plant-like organism mainly found in water with the ability to perform photosynthesis. Algae can be distinguished in macro- and microalgae based on their size. Macroalgae are multi-cellular and clearly visible to the naked eye. Microalgae in turn are defined as uni- or oligocellular organisms of a few micrometres in size. So far, commercial uses of algae have mainly included applications in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. At present, different ways for an energy use are investigated. Some algae contain considerable quantities of lipids, therefore they are suitable, for instance, for the production of biodiesel.
Despite the enormous number of known algae species and strains, algae are hardly being exploited as a natural resource so far. Especially microalgae are considered a promising renewable resource due to their great variety of compounds they contain. Amongst others they contain valuable proteins with essential amino acids, oils with unsaturated fatty-acids that support human health, vitamins and carotenoids. Additionally, they are not only of interest for the food and pharmaceutical industry but also for the chemical and bioenergy sector. However, so far, production costs are usually too high and the output is too low to compete with conventional production processes. Thus, there is still a great need for further basic research as well as for research on cultivation and processing technologies. In response, numerous research projects have been established in the last couple of years. At present, the first concepts are tested in the form of demonstration plants.
ifeu has a great expertise in the fields of life cycle assessment and integrated sustainability assessment. For more than two decades, the institute has been involved in various projects exploring renewable resources, bioenergy and biorefineries, including algae cultivation and processing. At present, important decisions are made that may influence the set-up of a future algae industry. Therefore, this kind of accompanying research will help to guarantee a sustainable development and to avoid unintended negative impacts, e.g. for the environment.
Keller, H., Gärtner, S., Reinhardt, G., Rettenmaier, N. (2017): Environmental assessment of Dunaliella-based algae biorefinery concepts. In: D-Factory project reports, supported by the EU`s FP7 under GA No. 613870, IFEU – Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
Keller, H., Reinhardt, G., Gärtner, S., Rettenmaier, N., Goacher, P., Mitchell, R., Peñaloza, D., Stahl, S., Harvey, P. (2017): Integrated sustainability assessment of Dunaliella-based algae biorefinery concepts. In: D-Factory project reports, supported by the EU`s FP7 under GA No. 613870, IFEU – Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
Keller, H., Reinhardt, G. A., Rettenmaier, N., Schorb, A., Dittrich, M. (2017): Environmental assessment of algae-based PUFA production.In: PUFAChain project reports, supported by the EU’s FP7 under GA No. 613303, IFEU – Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Keller, H., Rettenmaier, N., Schorb, A., Dittrich, M., Reinhardt, G. A. et al. (2017): Integrated sustainability assessment of algae-based PUFA production. In: PUFAChain project reports, supported by the EU’s FP7 under GA No. 613303, IFEU – Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
S. Gärtner, H. Keller, G. Reinhardt, N. Rettenmaier: The top 5 options to make algae products more sustainable: lessons learnt from recently completed studies in Europe. Proceedings of the Algae Biomass Summit 2017, Salt Lake City, USA, 29 October – 1 November 2017. http://www.algaebiomasssummit.org/, 2017
G. Reinhardt, H. Keller: LCA of algae based biorefineries: actual state of the art worldwide and perspectives. Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Renewable Resources and Biorefineries, Wroclaw, Poland, 7 – 9 June 2017. http://www.rrbconference.com/rrb-13-welcome, 2017
G. Reinhardt, C. Cornelius: Sustainability of PUFAs from microalgae – an integrated assessment approach. Applied Energy, 2014
G. Reinhardt: Wie grün sind Algen? Ein Überblick aus Nachhaltigkeitssicht (How green are algae? Assessing sustainable development of algae production). Proceedings of the
„1. Bioökonomie-Kongress Baden-Württemberg“, Stuttgart, Germany, 29-30 October 2014
G. Reinhardt, C. Cornelius: Algal biomass use: an integrated assessment of its sustainability with LCA as starting point. Proceedings of the Algae Biomass Summit 2014, San Diego, USA, 29 September – 3 October 2014
P.J. Harvey, G. Reinhardt and 17 co-authors: The CO2 Microalgae Biorefinery: High value products from low value wastes using halophylic microalgae in the D-Factory. Part 1: Tackling cell harvesting. Proceedings of „22nd European Biomass Conference and Exhibition“, Hamburg, Germany, June 23 – 26, 2014
G. Reinhardt: Conclusive Sustainability Assessment of Algal Biomass Pathways through Considerable Extension of LCA Application. 22nd EU BC&E Algae event, Hamburg, Germany, 25 June 2014
G. Reinhardt: How to extend an LCA of algal biomass pathways to a conclusive sustainability analysis. Proceedings of the „4th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels & Biomaterials“, Santa Fe, USA, June 15 – 18, 2014
A. Kryvenda, S. Durm, G. Reinhardt, T. Friedl: The PUFAChain project: a value chain from algal biomass to lipid-based products. Proceedings of the “7. Bundesalgenstammtisch”, Köthen, 3-4 June, 2014
G. Reinhardt: PUFAChain: the value chain from microalgal diversity to PUFAs: technological, environmental and integrated sustainability assessments. Proceedings of the 2nd European Workshop „Life Cycle Analysis of Algal based Biofuels and Biomaterials“, Brussels, 24 April 2014
P.J. Harvey, G. Reinhardt and 14 co-authors: Glycerol production by halophytic microalgae strategy for producing industrial quantities in saline water. Proceedings of the „20th EU Biomass Conference & Exhibition“, June 18 – 22, 2012, Milan, Italy, pp 85-90, 2012
P.J. Harvey, G. Reinhardt and 12 co-authors: Glycerol Production by Novel Strains of Dunaliella and Asteromonas: Basis for producing industrial quantities of glycerol in highly saline water. Proceedings of the „20th EU Biomass Conference and Exhibition”, Milan, Italy, June 18-22, 2012