Microalgae cultivation potential

Helsinki, Finland

contentpic_algae03Microalgae potential in producing carbon neutral bioenergy has been widely recognized, but large-scale cultivation sites do not exist as the production is not yet economic. In SUBMARINER we studied the site-specific requirements and evaluated the cultivation potential in the Baltic Sea Region.

Light is a critical factor for algae cultivation. Using the non-linear relationship between algae production and available sun light, the potential of algae production in the BSR is approximately 50% of that in the most productive areas. Low temperature is another natural constraint for algae cultivation in the BSR. Partly this can be circumvented using waste heat or by selecting species tolerating low temperatures. In our experiments, some cold water species showed high growth rates and produced large amount of lipids, suitable e.g. for biofuel production.

Using municipal wastewater or flue-gas from power plants an option

In microalgae cultivation, large amounts of nutrients are needed. Microalgae can utilize nutrients from waste streams. Our experiments show that microalgae cultivation using municipal wastewater or flue-gas from power plants is possible. The available resources were more efficiently used when a diverse algae community (several species) was used instead of single species.

Due to available infrastructure, multidisciplinary research institutes and hightech companies, the BSR is a potential site for pilot-scale studies of algae production. The location of actual large-scale cultivation plants is still beyond horizon.

Logo SYKEFurther information:

Jukka Seppälä
Finnish Environment Institute – SYKE
Marine Centre
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