Over the last two years, 15 kilometers northeast of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, a new eco business park was created, called ALGATEC. As its name suggests, it has something to do with algae, or more exactly: the production and processing of microalgae. The construction of this new facility began in 2017, with the production starting in the spring of 2018. The complete implementation will be finished by 2021. With a production area of 14 hectare, the Eco Business Park will be the largest microalgae production platform in Europe including a microbiology laboratory and a biorefinery unit once completed. Its mission is to welcome and attract entrepreneurial companies and their projects in the field of sustainable algae business.
Here, the biomass of tiny algae (Nannochloropsis, Spirulina, Tetraselmis and others) – living and photosynthesizing in the water can be used in multiple applications such as, human nutrition, animal feed and for the extraction of added-value compounds (vegetable protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, pigments and antioxidants). “The knowledge transfer process between applied microalgae research, technology and industrial growth is crucial for the development of new products and production technologies and therefore for the success of the business with this multipurpose raw material of the future”, says Edgar Santos, Director of ALGATEC EBP and Head of Industrial Projects at A4F – Algae for Future.
ALGATEC is the result of a partnership between three companies: LusoAmoreiras, the owner of the real estate rights and investor, Solvay providing the infrastructures and facilities and A4F, which stands for ´algae for future´. A4F is a Portuguese biotechnology company, with more than 20 years of accumulated experience in microalgae research & development and microalgae production. Their focus lies on the design, building, operation and transfer of commercial-scale microalgae production units, using different technologies that can better serve different customer needs. A4F has a proven experience of working with different species of microalgae, freshwater, saltwater, hypersaline water, autotrophic, heterotrophic and mixotrophic. Whilst gaining knowledge and working across a variety of the most advanced technological production solutions – from tubular and flat-panel photobioreactors (PBR) to open ponds, cascade raceways (CRW) and fermenters – harvesting and processing technologies.
In the microalgae production systems at the Eco Business Park, A4F will also use tubular photobioreactors with DURAN® borosilicate glass tubing from SCHOTT. Diana Fonseca, Head of Engineering at A4F: “Tubular glass photobioreactors are ideal for the production of high-value and high-quality products. They are also highly suitable for the production of microalgae strains that require strict production control, or that produce volatile compounds”. More than 70 kilometers of glass tubes will be installed in ALGATEC’s first phase of construction, specifically in A4F´s sophisticated UHT (unilayer horizontal tubular) photobioreactors and the well-known MHT (multilayer horizontal tubular) PBRs. “We are very proud to be part of this great project and supporting our customer A4F with more than 50 tons of glass tubes and more than 9,000 slim couplings”, explains Fritz Wintersteller, Director Business Development from SCHOTT Tubing.
There are numerous advantages of ALGATEC as an industrial complex, it benefits from high solar radiation at the site, the availability of raw materials and other utilities from a positive integration with the neighboring industry. Additionally there is easy accessibility to transportation and logistics, its proximity to universities and research institutes as well as synergies between project promoters and the industry nearby. €22 million are being invested into the largest European microalgae production platform. The aim is to produce 600 tons of microalgae per year, to reach a €10 million turnover, to consume 2000 tons of CO2 and to create 100 direct and indirect jobs.