BIOFAT Project

BIOFAT is a microalgae-to-biofuel FP7 demonstration project that integrates the entire value chain of algae process from optimized growth, starch and oil accumulation, to downstream processing (biorefinery) including biofuel production . The BIOFAT approach integrates and scales up complementary technologies and skills from each partner into a global multidisciplinary project.

The value chain of biofuel production from microalgae will be tested on a large scale during the project with three main targets:

  1. Energy efficiency;
  2. Economic viability; and
  3. Environmental sustainability.

Sustainability is the key factor for biofuel from algae production, considering both environmental (e.g. use of marine strains to limit freshwater use) and economic (e.g. low energy consumption) sustainability.

The project will be implemented in two phases:

  1. Process optimization in two pilot scale facilities, each one-half hectare in size, located in Italy and Portugal; , and
  2. Economical modelling and scale-up to a 10-hectare demo facility.

The technologies adopted in the pilot plant will be fully representative of the solutions that will characterize the DEMO facility.

The two pilots represent a strategic added value for the following industrial phase, and they will enable a full feasibility study of algae biofuels in EU. The 10 hectare plant aims to demonstrate how generating biofuels from algae technologies will work and show that the “microalgae production platform” can operate with positive economical balance through a biorefinery process where added value compounds are produced.

The BIOFAT consortium is characterized by a unique mix of skills that represent the actual state of the art in terms of knowledge and expertise in the field of microalgae production and applications, including biofuels. All partners have consolidated know-how in these fields, as they have worked on these topics for nearly two decades. The scientific and technological challenges will include:

  • Strain selection and cultivation, in accordance with environmental conditions and sustainability criteria;
  • Optimization of the culture conditions, adoption of strategies to limit contaminations and abiotic stresses , allowing high oil/starch accumulation:
  • Technology integration and optimization, combining photo-bioreactors (Green Wall Panels and tubular reactors) and raceway ponds, as well as automated harvesting;
  • Minimizing investment and operational costs for successfully up-scaling (from one-half hectare to 10 hectares) the technologies from algae cultivation to biomass processing and biofuel production, for competitive and sustainable algal biomass production.
  • Development of the algo-refinery concept valorising different co-products from the algae biomass fractions.