European Projects on Algae Production and Algal Biofuels


The aim of MacroFuels is to develop macro-algae based biofuels for transportation. The project focuses on 3rd generation biofuels technology conversion. Duration: 2016 - 2019.


The project PHOTOFUEL (Biocatalytic Solar Fuels for sustainable mobility in Europe) will develop a next generation technology for the sustainable production of alternative, liquid transportation fuels. The challenge is to advance the base technology of microalgae cultivation in closed bioreactors by enabling phototrophic algae or cyanobacterial microorganisms to produce alkanes and alcohols, which are excreted to the culture broth for direct separation without cell harvesting. This thereby turns the microbial cells into self-reproducing biocatalysts allowing the process to directly convert solar energy, water and CO2 into engine-ready fuel instead of being used to form biomass. I is a 4-year project. Duration: 2015 - 2019.


The MIRACLES project addresses major hurdles for expansion of the algae industry by enhancing cost effectiveness of algae biomass production and processing. This has been achieved through several innovations incl. the design of innovative multiple-product biorefinery technology and development of new algae-derived products. Duration: 2013 - 2017.


The D-Factory project will set a world benchmark for a sustainable CO2 algae biorefinery. The D-Factory is based on biomass from the halotolerant microalga Dunaliella salina. Duration: 2013 - 2017.

FUEL4ME, FUture European League 4 Microalgal Energy

FUEL4ME is a 4-year project funded by the EU, which is aiming to develop a sustainable, scalable process for biofuels from microalgae and to valorize the by-products by 2017. The specific aims are:

1. To develop a continuous one-step process in which the lipid productivity in microalgae cultures is maximized and the lipid profile is optimized for the biofuel production.

2. To translate the developed one-step process to outdoor, thereby achieving a robust and reliable production process with short downtime, continuous year round lipid production under different climates and an oil production of constant quality.

3. To develop and integrate an innovative and continuous downstream process for conversion of microalgae into biofuels with consistent volume and quality, resulting into a technically feasible and sustainable process chain.

4. To demonstrate the capability of the optimised process at a pilot scale under representative industrial conditions in a pilot facility in Spain.

5. To assess the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the continuous production and conversion process developed by Fuel4me consortium.


The AUFWIND project, Germany, was launched in 2013 and involves twelve partners from research and industry, who are developing microalgae as a basis for the production of biokerosene. Key questions addressed are the economic and ecological feasibility of the process. The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) is funding the project with € 5.75 million via its project management organization FNR (Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe). Total funding for the project amounts to some € 7.4 million.

DEMA - Direct Ethanol from MicroAlgae

DEMA project: The Consortium, coodinated by University of Limerick, Ireland, will develop, demonstrate and licence a complete economically competitive technology for the direct production of bioethanol from microalgae with low-cost scalable photobioreactors by 2016. Initial proof-of-concept results show via Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and economic balance that it is feasible to use microalgae to produce bioethanol for less than 0.40 per litre. The catalytic conversion of solar energy, H2O and CO2 into ethanol will be carried out by a metabolically engineered strain of the cyanobacterium, Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Duration: 2012 - 2017.

BISIGODOS - High value-added chemicals and BIoreSIns from alGae biorefineries produced from CO2 provided by industrial emissions

BISIGODOS project aimed to address the production of valuable algae-derived chemicals, amino acids and high added-value bio-resins, starting from algae biomass fed directly with CO2 from industrial emissions (cement, steel factory, thermal power plants, etc.) as a cost-effective and renewable raw material, a process assisted by solar radiation, nutrients and seawater microalgae. Duration: 2013 - 2016.

FP7 Algae Cluster - BIOFAT, ALL Gas, and InteSusAl

Following the 2010 FP7 call on demonstration at industrial scale of algae and its subsequent use in biofuel production, a total EC contribution of €20.5 M was announced in support of three projects - BIOFAT, ALL Gas, and InteSusAl - which form the FP7 Algae Cluster.

The BIOFAT demonstration project aims to integrate the entire value chain in the production of ethanol and biodiesel. The process begins with strain selection and proceeds to biological optimization of the culture media, monitored algae cultivation, low-energy harvesting and technology integration. The project will be implemented in two phases: 1) Process optimization in two pilot scale facilities, each of 0.5 ha size, located in Italy and Portugal; and 2) Economical modeling and scale-up to a 10-hectare demo facility.

The raw material wil be industrial CO2 derived from fermentation. Production will be based on low-energy consuming photobioreactors. Algal oils will be transformed into FAME biodiesel and ethanol through fermentation. The project will also demonstrate the algorefinery concept with production of added value products in addition to biofuel.

BIOFAT is coordinated by A4F-AlgaFuel (Portugal). Partners include : Abengoa Bioenergia Nuevas Tecnologias (ABNT), University of Florence, Ben-Gurion University (Israel), Fotosintetica & Microbiologica (Italy), Evodos (Neherlands), AlgoSource Technologies (France), IN SRL (Italy) and Hart Energy (Belgium).

The ALL Gas project (Industrial scale Demonstration of Sustainable Algae Culture for Biofuels Production) will use wastewater, and will introduce a patented ' Light Enhancement Factor (LEF)', to increase the biomass yield of raceway ponds. The residual algae will be digested with wastewater solids to produce biogas, which will be purified and used as fuel for at least 200 vehicles. Additional CO2 will be generated via thermal conversion of agricultural residues and digestate from algal residues.

InteSusAl (Demonstration of Integrated & Sustainable enclosed raceway and photobioreactor microalgae cultivation with biodiesel production and validation) aims to cultivate 1,500 dry tonnes from 10 ha over 18 months, which will be used to produce 580 tonnes of FAME biodiesel. Glycerine, will be used to enhance alagal growth rates. The production site will be developed near the site of the existing E-BIO biodiesel production plant.

INTERREG IVB EnAlgae Project

EnAlgae brings together 19 partners and 14 observers across seven EU Member States. The project is developing sustainable technologies for algal biomass production, bioenergy and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, taking them from pilot facilities through to market-place products and services. By developing and sharing nine pilot-scale facilities across Europe, cost and access barriers can be overcome. The facilities will also give plant operators the ability to experience the full range of physical parameters (ranging from rural countryside to industrialised areas) that are present within the region.

See EnAlgae interactive Map of Algae Initiatives in North West Europe.

MED-ALGAE Production of biodiesel from Algae in selected Mediterranean Countries

The ~2.0 million Euro MED-ALGAE project "Production of biodiesel from Algae in selected Mediterranean Countries", started in 2014 and runs for 36 months. The methodology includes all stages in the production of biodiesel from microalgae: sampling of seawater or freshwater, the selection of microalgae, species identification, cultivation of microalgae, harvesting and extraction of biodiesel and determination of properties of biodiesel produced in accordance with Standard EN14214 and its testing. Five pilots will be established in each participating country: Cyprus, Italy, Malta, Lebanon and Egypt. The project is implemented under the ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme, and financed (~90%) by the European Union through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.


ALGAEBIOGAS (algal treatment of biogas digestate with significant economic and environmental benefits for biogas plants operators) is focused to market introduction of algal-bacterial treatment of biogas digestate and feedstock production, an innovative technology which has significant economic and environmental benefits to biogas operators. The project is co-founded by the Eco-innovation Initiative of the European Union.



BioAlgaeSorb - focuses on enabling European SMEs to remediate wastes, reduce Green House Gas emissions and produce biofuels via microalgae cultivation.


The FP7 project BioWALK4Biofuels aims to develop an innovative system for the treatment of biowaste and use of GHG emissions to produce biofuels, where macroalgae is used as a catalyser.



GIAVAP (Genetic Improvement of Algae for Value Added Product) is a large scale integrating project involving twelve partners from five European and one associated country. The consortium will adapt genetic engineering techniques to various algal strains of economic interest focusing on carotenoid and PUFA production and the overexpression of peptides of commercial value. In parallel the project will develop cultivation technologies, harvesting and extraction methods using model algae strains and suitable improved strains. Techniques developed could potentially also have applications in the energy field.


PHOTO.COMM - includes close collaboration with three European companies, AlgaFuel, Novagreen and Algae Biotech, who will test strains under full production conditions in state-of-the-art photobioreactors. The aim is the development of novel, carbon-neutral production platforms and the ultimate establishment of state of the art photobioreactor technology in Denmark. The project will fund a consortium of 9 groups and provide trans-European training for a network of PhD students.


The AQUAFUELs project, supported under FP7, started in January 2010. AquaFUELS investigated the state of the art on research, technological development and demonstration activities regarding the exploitation of various algal and other suitable non-food aquatic biomasses for 2nd generation biofuels production.


Other Projects

Other European projects include SUNBIOPATH towards a better sunlight to biomass conversion efficiency in microalgae (FP7 245070), CO2ALGAEFIX (CO2 capture and bio-fixation through microalgal culture), MIRACLES (Multi-product Integrated bioRefinery of Algae: from Carbon dioxide and Light Energy to high-value Specialties), PUFA-Chain (The Value Chain from Microalgae to PUFA) and SPLASH (Sustainable PoLymers from Algae Sugars and Hydrocarbons).

Commercial-scale demonstrations of algae for biofuels production

Sapphire Energy Green "Crude Farm"

Sapphire Energy is operating the most advanced, algae crude oil production facility in the world. The company’s Green Crude Farm is the world’s first commercial demonstration scale algae-to-energy site, integrating the entire value chain of algae-based crude oil production, from cultivation, to harvest, to extraction of ready-to-refine Green Crude. Sapphire Energy’s Green Crude Farm features 100 acres of cultivation ponds and all the necessary mechanical and processing equipment needed to harvest and extract algae and recycle water. At full capacity the facility will be 300 acres. It is in continuous operation of all unit processes since 2012 and producing 5,000 – 10,000 barrels of green crude per day.

Sapphire Technology Algaeus - first hybrid to cross country using a belnd of algae-based renewable gasoline

© Copyright Sapphire Energy
Above is the world’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle to cross the US on fuel containing a blend of algae-based renewable gasoline. Sapphire Energy has constructed a 300-acre integrated algae-to-biofuel demonstration facility, (Green Crude Farm) in Luna County. The First Phase became operational in August 2012, and the facility is now on schedule to reach commercial-scale production by 2018.

Muradel "algae-crude" demonstration, Australia

In November 2014, Muradel launched a $10.7m 30000 litre/annum plant to demonstrate its Green2Black™ (algae to crude oil) technology at industrial scale. This is the first step towards an 80 million liter commercial plant. Muradel uses an energy-efficient subcritical water reactor to rapidly convert algae to crude oil that is "functionally equivalent" to fossil crude.


Solazyme demonstration of commercial production of biofuels and biochemicals using heterotrophic algae

Solazyme has used molecular biology and chemical engineering to develop proprietary microalgae to convert sugars into fuels and other products. The algae are heterotrophic, meaning they grow in the dark (in fermenters) using the sugar as a food source. Using standard industrial fermentation equipment, Solazyme is able to efficiently scale and accelerate microalgae's natural oil production time to just a few days and at commercial levels. The company is currently focused on production of high margin ingredients, rather than high volume fuels [Source: Solazyme, November 2014].

In May 2014, production started at the Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils plant. Solazyme is now manufacturing products at three large scale facilities, including our 2,000 MT/year integrated facility in Peoria, the 20,000 MT/year Iowa facilities in Clinton/Galva and the 100,000 MT/year facility in Brazil.

In April 2012, Solazyme announced a joint venture with Bunge (Solazyme Bunge Produtos Renovaveis Ltda.) to develop a commercial-scale (100,000 t.p.a.) oil production facility in Brazil, using Solazymes technology to convert sugar (from cane) to 'tailored oils'. In January 2013, Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils received approval for a loan of $120 million from the Brazilian Development Bank.

Solazyme Bunge Renewable Oils broke ground in June 2012 and was scheduled to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2013. It will service the renewable chemical and fuel industries within the Brazilian marketplace and will initially target 100,000 metric tons per year of renewable oil production. In November 2012, Solazyme and Bunge announced in a framework agreement that they intend to expand production capacity from 100,000 metric tons to 300,000 metric tons globally by 2016, and that the portfolio of oils will broaden to include a range of healthy and nutritious edible food oils for sale in Brazil [Source: Solazyme website].

Solazyme has partnerships with Chevron, and has a contract to provide 450000 gallons of algal biofuels for the US Navy trials. Solazyme microalgae produce linear fatty acids and esters that can be readily be converted into fuels and other added value bioproducts. Solazyme technology has been deployed successfully at commercial manufacturing scale. The company has received a $21.8m grant from the DoE for a demonstration plant. Soladiesel™ has exceeded the requirements of ASTM D6751 for jet fuel, EN 14214, D-975 and Military Specifications. In 2012 Solazyme tested its fuel with VW TDI Clean Diesel technology.

Cellana and Neste Oil agreement for commercial-scale algae production

In June 2013, Cellana, a leading developer of algae-based feedstocks for biofuels, animal feed, and Omega-3 nutritional oils, announced has entered into a multi-year off-take agreement with Neste Oil for commercial-scale quantities of Cellana’s ReNew™ Fuel algae oil feedstocks for biofuel applications. Since 2009, Cellana has operated its Kona Demonstration Facility, a 6-acre, state-of-the-art production and research facility in Hawaii. To date, more than 20 metric tons of whole algae (dry weight) have been produced using Cellana’s process with highly diverse strains, making it one of the most flexible, thoroughly tested, and validated outdoor algae production technologies in the world.

Algae.Tec Ltd production facility in Australia

Algae.Tec Ltd, Australia, has signed agreements with in Australia (Macquarie Generation) and India (Reliance) to provide facilities to convert carbon dioxide from energy plants to biofuels. In May 2015, Algae.Tec shipped the first photobioreacor to Reliance.

In August 2012, Algae.Tec opened its Shoalhaven production facility in Bomaderry, NSW - consisting of a series of photobioreactors, which will be fed with carbon dioxide from a neighbouring ethanol plant operated by the Manildra Group.

In September 2012 Algae.Tec Ltd. signed a collaboration agreement with Lufthansa for an industrial-scale algae to aviation biofuels production facility in Europe.

BioProcess Algae commercial scale algae platform in US

BioProcess Algae LLC has constructed four commercial scale Grower Harvester™ platforms in Iowa. The facility will use the carbon dioxide from Green Plains’ ethanol plant to produce high quality algal feedstocks. In April 2013, BioProcess Algae received $6.4m funding from US DOE to further develop its platform to produce military biofuels, with a focus on faster lipid production and conversion of lipids to various hydrocarbons.

Algenol Direct to Ethanol® process

Algenol recently won the 2014 Global Leadership in Biofuels award from PLATTS. Algenol’s first commercial facility will include phased deployments of photobioreactors on an initial site of up to 2,000 acres of photobioreactors, with additional acreage available for future scale-up, along with upstream and downstream processing equipment and related infrastructure. It will be located on marginal land with access to salt water, an industrial source of CO2 and distribution infrastructure. Algenol uses fully closed and sealed photobioreactors for ethanol production directly from enhanced algae. Waste algae are converted into diesel, jet fuel and gasoline using hydrothermal liquefaction and other conversion technologies.

Joule Demonstration Plant

Joule has pioneered a CO2-to-fuel production  platform,  effectively  reversing combustion through the use of solar energy. The company’s platform applies engineered catalysts   to   continuously convert waste CO2 directly into renewable fuels such as ethanol or hydrocarbons for diesel, jet fuel and gasoline. At full-scale commercialization Joule is targeting productivity of up to 25,000 gallons of ethanol/acre/year and 15,000 gallons diesel/acre/year.