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EU Research Project SPLASH Based on Algae-Based Polymers Kicks Off

08 January 2013

On 19-21 November 2012, the twenty partners involved in an EU funded research programme held their kick-off meeting in Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Led by Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, the 4-year project has the goal to develop a new biobased industrial platform using microalgae as raw material for the sustainable production and recovery of hydrocarbons and (exo)polysaccharides from algae and their further conversion to renewable polymers. SPLASH hopes to deliver knowledge, tools and technologies needed for the establishment of a new industry sector: Industrial Biotechnology based on algae and/or algal genes for the manufacture of polyesters and polyolefins.

The project covers the whole process chain from optimised biomass production to product development and exploitation. In a first step, two industrial bioproduction platforms will be explored: the green alga Botryococcus braunii and the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to which the unique hydrocarbon and polysaccharides producing genes from Botryococcus will be transferred. Biomass cultivation is targeted to reach a pilot scale.

Following steps will develop procedures for the production, in situ extraction and isolation of sugars and hydrocarbons, which will be further processed into polymers: Polyesters from sugars and polyolefins from hydrocarbons. Furthermore, the project will explore the possibilities for the production of high-value end-use applications, such as fibres for yarns, ropes and nets. This exploitation will also include market analysis and environmental assessments.

The project comprises twenty partners, of which 55% are SMEs and large enterprises and the remaining 45 % are universities and research institutes. The research consortium is being managed by Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research. Institutes and universities include the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Universidad de Huelva, EGE Universitesi, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Wageningen Universiteit and Universität Bielefeld, while companies such as nova-Institut für politische and ökologische Innovation GmbH, PNO Consultants BV, Lankhorst Euronete Portugal SA, Rhodia Operations, Organic Waste Systems NV, Paques BV, Biotopic, Value for Technology BVBA (VFT), Avantium Chemicals BV, Lifeglimmer GmbH and Pursuit Dynamics PLC form the other part of the project consortium.

A project website is expected to be available soon at http://www.eu-splash.eu.

SPLASH receives funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) under the grant agreement No. 311 956.