Microalgae In IT - microalgae based, safety-tested and optimized fish feed value chain by using Interdisciplinary R&D and IT solutions
01/07/2021 - 30/06/2024

The Microalgae In IT project aims to develop and demonstrate an innovative and cost effective circular blue bioeconomy model where carbon dioxide from flue gas and nutrients from agri-food residues are used for enhancing microalgae growth in the controlled cultivation environment in photobioreactos. The system will be designed to be applicable also in the Nordic climatic conditions, as together with flue gas it makes use of the utility’s excess heat.

Microalgae are known for their high nutritional properties and yield per hectare. This can be further increased when the growth medium is enriched with CO2, but the few pilot projects on this struggle with achieving the required biomass quality, i.e. purity for use as sh feed, and further to more valuable applications. Before the gas enters the bioreactor, we apply alternative pre-filtering technologies, and compare the outcomes with biomass grown on unfiltered flue gas. As we expect to have some potentially toxic substances in the raw biomass, at least when the filters are not used, we thereafter apply several alternative after-treatment approaches in order to detect which of them are applicable for further purifying the microalgae biomass. We follow the properties of the microalgae throughout the value chain, incl. conduct live trials on rainbow trout. The trials indicate the microalgae-based feed supplement’s effect on fish microbiome, growth, and end product quality.

For reliable tracking of potential hazardous substances throughout the value chain, we develop sensors and data analyzing methods, as well as algorithms that give automatic warnings, hence IT is an integral part of the methodological approach. Throughout the project we consider economic, environmental and societal aspects that may support or hinder the adoption of this novel approach. The project is conducted by the Estonian University of Life Sciences and Power Algae Llc (Estonia), Matís (Iceland), and University of the Azores (Portugal).

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Publications & media coverage

1.       Costa V, Luz R, Cordeiro R., Fonseca A, Gonçalves V (2023). Effect of increased CO2 on biomass production and protein content in naturally tolerant microalgae and cyanobacteria from Azorean volcanic environments. 15th International Conference on Culture Collections - Exploiting microbial resources to support social wellbeing. 12-16 June 2023, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal. (Poster)

2.       Renu Geetha Bai, Salini Chandrasekharan Nair, Liina Joller-Vahter, Timo Kikas (2023). Flue gas treated microalgae Chlorella vulgaris: Biochemical evaluations and development of fish feed supplement. 19th International Conference on Renewable Resources and Biorefineries (RRB) 2023. 31st May – 2nd June 2, 2023, Riga, Latvia. (Poster)

3.       Geetha Bai, Renu; Kikas, Timo; Joller-Vahter, Liina (2022). Production of microalgae for fish feed using flue gas as an input. FEBS3+ Conference of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Biochemical Societies. Abstract Book: FEBS3+ Conference of   Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Biochemical Societies, Tallinn, Estonia. 15 – 17 June 2022. Tallinn: Tallinn University of Technology Press, 91−92.

4.       Eurofish Magazine 1/2023, p. 34-35. https://issuu.com/eurofish/docs/eurofish_magazine_1_2023

5.       Presentation of the project at Algal Biotechnology – Techniques and Opportinities, EIT Food 08. Dec 2022, https://www.eitfood.eu/education/courses/algae-biotechnology

6.       Presentation of the project at Algal Biotechnology – Techniques and Opportinities, EIT Food 11. May 2022, https://www.eitfood.eu/education/courses/algae-biotechnology

7.       Pugibet, M. (2022). Microalgas y Cianobacterias de Hábitats de Afluencia de Águas Subterráneas Ricas en CO2. Final Project Report, Bachelor’s in Biology, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada.

8.       Algas dos Açores poderão alimentar aquacultura em 2024. Público, March 9, 2022. (https://www.publico.pt/2022/03/09/ciencia/noticia/algas-acores-poderao-alimentar-aquacultura-2024-1998163)

9.       Algas dos Açores poderão alimentar aquacultura em 2024. Jornal Açores 9, March 9, 2022. (https://jornalacores9.pt/algas-dos-acores-poderao-alimentar-aquacultura-em-2024/)

10.   Microalgas açorianas vão ser a base de suplemento alimentar a testar em salmão de aquacultura na Islândia. Correio dos Açores, 10 de Março de 2022.

11.   Algas dos Açores poderão alimentar aquacultura em 2024. Rádio Pico, March 10, 2022. (https://www.radiopico.com/noticia/read/15004/algas-dos-aores-podero-alimentar)

12.   Algas dos Açores poderão alimentar aquacultura em 2024. Industria e Ambiente, March 14, 2022. (https://www.industriaeambiente.pt/noticias/algas-acores-poderao-alimentar-aquacultura-2024/)

13.   Microalgas dos Açores poderão alimentar aquacultura em 2024. Viver Saudável, March 16, 2022. (https://www.viversaudavel.pt/microalgas-dos-acores-poderao-alimentar-aquacultura-em-2024/)

14.   Algas dos Açores poderão alimentar aquacultura em 2024. BioPlatform, April 25, 2022. (https://bioplatform.eu/blog/2022/04/25/algas-dos-acores-poder…tura-em-2024/?doing_wp_cron=1672670513.4625239372253417968750)

15.   Public presentation of the Microalgae in IT project- press conference. March 9 2022, University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, Portugal.

16.   Radio show “90 segundos de Ciência”, Ep. 1431 Vítor Gonçalves – Projeto Microalgae in IT quer otimizar os processos de produção de rações para aquacultura. (https://www.90segundosdeciencia.pt/episodes/ep-1431-vitor-goncalves/)

17.   Facebook publications: 2 in https://www.facebook.com/uac.FCT; 1 in https://www.facebook.com/90SegundosCiencia;

18.   Biohackathon, Tartu, Estonia, August 2022 https://www.facebook.com/events/511255407458454

19.   Scientists Night Festival, Tartu, Estonia Sept. 2022

20.   Garage 48 Food innovation hackathon in Tartu, Estonia January 20203 https://garage48.org/blog/from-bug-ice-cream-to-fungal-fish-filets-the-second-garage48-food-hackathon-took-place-in-january-2023

21.   Biohackathon, Tartu, Estonia, Marc 2023 https://www.facebook.com/events/808913676765674?ref=newsfeed