Project start: January 2016 Expected completion: December 2019
MacroFuels is financially supported by the European Commission. Six European countries will concert their efforts to achieve breakthroughs towards the commercially viable production of third-generation biofuels from seaweed or macro-algae.
The progress that will be achieved by MacroFuels will have significant impacts on various economic fields, and – most importantly – pave the way towards a sustainable solution for biofuels that are not competing with arable land or food in contrast to1st and 2nd generation biofuels derived from food-based crops and residuals. Thus Macrofuels aims to form a substantial part of the renewable energy from photosynthesis counted towards the goal set by the European Union of using renewables for 10% of their transportation energy use by 2020.
While current biofuels compete for scarce cropland, fresh water, and fertilizers, seaweed does not need fresh water, arable land or fertilizers to grow. In addition, seaweed beds can serve as a significant CO2 sink with significant environmental benefits of seaweed derived biofuels and high value co-products.
Among the main barriers to large-scale deployment of macro-algae for biofuels is the high biomass yield that will be required for biofuels production on an industrial scale as well as generally high production costs. In addition, there are current needs for advanced cultivation and harvesting techniques at sea associated with both the selective breeding and high biomass production for its conversion to biofuels.
To overcome those barriers, MacroFuels will achieve urgently needed technological and process-oriented breakthroughs which will make it possible for seaweed-derived biofuels to eventually compete favourably with fossil or older generation equivalent fuels.
For improved cultivation MacroFuels will use 2D substrates based on advanced textiles to facilitate open sea cultivation. These award winning substrates have been developed and patented in the previous EU-project AT~SEA with the participation of several MacroFuels partners, and yield 3-5 times more biomass than state of the art 1D rope based systems.
- Increasing the biomass supply by developing a rotating crop scheme for cultivation of seaweed, using native, highly productive brown, red and green seaweeds. Combined with the use of advanced textile substrates these breakthroughs will result in a year round biomass yield of 25 kg seaweeds (wet weight) per m2 per year
- Improving the pre-treatment and storage of seaweed and to yield fermentable and convertible sugars at economically relevant concentrations
- Increasing the bio-ethanol and bio-butanol production to economically viable concentrations which metabolize all sugars at 90% efficiency
- Increasing the biogas yield to convert 90% of the available carbon in the residues by adapting the organisms to seaweed
- Developing the thermochemical conversion of sugars to fuels from the lab scale to the pilot scale
- Performing an integral techno-economic, sustainability and risk assessment of the entire seaweed to biofuel chain
MacroFuels will develop technology for the production of fuels which are suitable as liquid fuels or precursor thereof for the heavy transport sector as well as potentially for the aviation sector.
- Danish Technological Institute (project manager)
- Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland, Netherlands
- Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek, Netherlands
- Avantium Chemicals BV, Netherlands
- The Scottish Association for marinescience LBG, United Kingdom
- Sion Industries NV, Belgium
- Environmental Resources Management Limited, United Kingdom
- Aarhus University, Denmark
- Eurida, Germany
- Matis OHF, Iceland
- Fermentationexperts AS, Denmark