The construction of AlgaePARC, which contains test facilities for the cultivation of algae, has been given the go-ahead. This week, the Executive Board agreed to the project, a joint initiative by the Bioprocess Technology And Food and Biobased Research chair groups. The testing facilities are within a stone's throw of Wageningen campus.
According to Brenda Israel, business developer at Biobased Products, algae are a promising source of valuable nutrients such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and vitamins, while they can also be used to produce biofuels. 'It will be possible to run at a profit within five to ten years if you make use of all the components of the algae biomass, such as high-grade products for the food and chemical industries,' she anticipates. The test facilities at AlgaePARC will show exactly how to do this. 'We will be trying out four different systems currently on the market', explains Israel. 'By comparing them, we will be able to find out which is the best system for large-scale production.' Rene Wijffels, process technology professor and the project's front man: 'With these facilities, we hope to grow into a kind of European testing centre for algae technology.'
'The detailed drawings will be ready in April', says Israel. 'We hope to start construction in May or June.' Trial runs will be carried out using the facilities at the end of the summer. The building costs amount to more than two million euros, to be paid by the Province and the Ministry of Agriculture. The various research projects at AlgaePARC will be funded with money from the natural gas revenues and the private sector. A sum of at least four million euros is already available for this.