IDEA - Implementation and development of economic viable algae-based value chains

Project Summary

IDEA envisions the development and enrolment of economic viable value chains based on micro-algae in NWEurope. More particularly, partners from Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Ireland and UK are involved which are countries exposed to a similar climate that is significantly different from the south-European  and North-European climate. 

The growing world population is in need for new sustainable resources for healthy food/feed & chemicals. Algae produce a variety of compounds via conversion of CO2, nutrients and light, and offer potential as renewable feedstock. Although light intensities and temperatures are lower compared to south-Europe, there is a potential for algae growth. For some species, the NWEuropean climate may even have advantages, and can be economic viable when targeting higher value products (not bioenergy).

Today algae based value chains are not established despite free greenhouse capacities suitable for algae growth. IDEA aims to innovate and push the process development from individual solutions to a viable process chain targeting final compounds for food, feed, cosmetic and agro applications. This will involve at longer term >60 SMEs in the region.

A multidisciplinary team is composed with partners (academics, SMEs, sectoral groups, authorities…) active along the value chain which covers algae growth, harvesting, medium re-use, processing of the algae biomass (including biorefinery) and new marketable final product formulations.

IDEA addresses innovations related to: (1) algae species for NWEurope climate and cultivation efficiency for prolonged growth seasons in NWE (up to 360 days), (2) development of an automated water recirculation, harvest unit & alternative CO2 resources, (3) storage concept, logistics and preservation of algae biomass, (4) regional activities for algae processing, potentially comparable to the milk industry, (5) >15 novel products formulations to targeting value generation. In the IDEA capitalization part, the potential of side-streams is being evaluated for providing nutrients (N/P), CO2, salts, and/or water) in algae growth. IDEA starts where earlier projects ended.


Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek 200 Boeretang
Name Contact Name Email Country
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH Christina Kuchendorf Germany
Algae Natural Food SAS Louis Bourdonnay France
Innovatiesteunpunt voor landbouw en platteland Kristof Severijns Belgium
CentraleSupélec – Université Paris-Saclay Behnam Taidi France
Feed Design Lab Trudy van Megen Netherlands
Thomas More Kempen vzw Sabine Van Miert Belgium
Teagasc, The Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority Maria Hayes Ireland
University of Twente WIm Brilman Netherlands
Swansea University Alla Silkana United Kingdom
PCFruit vzw Wendy Van Hemelrijck Belgium
Heirbaut LV Kris Heirbaut Belgium

IDEA+ event - September 28th 2023

The IDEA capitalization project concluded in 2023 with an event. This event was organized on September 28th 2023 as a physical meeting hosted by VITO in Mol (Belgium). All stakeholders involved in algae value chains were welcome to attend the event and to share experiences!

Below you can revisit the programme and presentations, the posters and the project videos that were shown during the event.

Open the Book of abstracts

Revisit the programme and the presentations

  • Coffee & registration & poster display (9h00)

  • Welcome (9h50)
  • Digestate as a nutrient source for algae cultivation (11h30)
    • Pretreatment requirements of digestate for use in algae cultivation - Alla Silkina (Swansea University, UK)
    • Establishing growth conditions for unialgal growth on pre-treated digestate via lab scale trials - Behnam Taidi (CentraleSupélec – University Paris-Saclay, France)
    • Pilot scale growth of Scenedesmus on pre-treated digestate - Alla Silkina (Swansea University, UK)

  • Algae growth on CO2 from (burned) biogas (12h)
    • Capture and separation of CO2/CH4 gases from biogas - Wim Brilman (University of Twente, The Netherlands)
    • Algae growth on recycled CO2 from biogas at larger scale - Kris Heirbaut (Heirbaut Algriculture, Belgium)

  • Lunch & poster session (12h20)

  • Visit to VITO facilities (13h20)

  • Impact of side-streams on algae biomass use (14h30)
    • Algae biomass quality and safety aspects - Maria Hayes (TEAGASC, Ireland)
    • First screening of application potential of algae biomass - Joran Verspreet (VITO, Belgium)
    • Potential of algae biomass for food/feed applications Maria Hayes (TEAGASC, Ireland)
    • Potential of algae biomass extracts for agro-applications – Yana De Ruyter (PCfruit, Belgium)
    • Techno-economic considerations - Mohammed El Ibrahimi (VITO, Belgium)

  • Algae value chains - Views of companies perspective (15h20)
  • Conclusions & policy recommendations (16h20)
  • Networking reception & poster session (16h30)
Revisit the posters shown at the IDEA+ final event

Poster session 1: Algae biomass production


Algae biomass harvesting from an open pond using the membrane-based MAF technology: longer-term field operations.


Growth of microalgae on process water from a demineralisation unit: a lab trial test


Use of cooked brown crab process water to cultivate microalgae: an exploratory study


Growth of microalgae on process water from a demineralisation unit: a pilot-scale test


Wastewater-born algae for wastewater treatment


Optimizing the combination regimes of process waters for microalgae production


Dewatering and desalting of different algae species using submerged membranes (MAF-technology)


The wet preservation of algae concentrates obtained by membrane filtration


AlgaeBrew: Unlocking the potential of microalgae for the valorisation of brewery waste products into omega-3 rich animal feed and fertilisers


Large-scale production of Scenedesmus obliquus biomass and nutrients removal from Heirbaut Anaerobic digestate


Evaluation of Scenedesmus obliquus growth performance on different treated digestate.


Microalgae cultivation as a key enabling technology for Circular Green Biorefineries


Algae cultivation on recycled CO2 from biogas and recycled medium in a 9000 L PBR


CO2 from Biogas for microalgae cultivation – using a supported amine sorbent with air purge regeneration


CO2 for microalgae cultivation by biogas upgrading with cation-exchanged bentonite clay

Poster session 2: Algae biomass processing & applications


Processing of IDEA+ algae biomass harvested during the different pilot trials


Assessment of the safety of microalgal biomass grown on either nutrient-rich process water or carbon dioxide side-streams: Steps used and caveats concerning algal utilization


Microalgal use as ingredients for potential methane abatement and health benefits in cows and dogs


Cultivation of Chloromonas on medium and regeneration water from a demineralisation unit: impact on algae biomass


Impact of gastrointestinal digestion on bioactive properties of algae extracts


The effect of microalgae extracts on biotic and abiotic stress in fruit crops


Nutritional characterization and digestibility evaluation of algae cultivated on sidestreams


Impact of including defatted Chlorella, Chloromonas and Nannochloropsis biomass in broiler diets on intestinal morphology and histology


Aqueous antimicrobial extracts of Ascophyllum nodosum using microwave technology

Poster session 3: Algae value chains – Overarching aspects


Legislation concerning the use of microalgae in agriculture, food, feed, pharma and cosmetics


Techno-Economic and Sustainability Assessment of Side Streams Utilization in Microalgae Cultivation


IDEA roadmap towards implementation of economic viable algae value chains in NWEurope

Scientific papers

IDEA press


IDEA+ event - September 28th 2023

The IDEA capitalization project will conclude in 2023 with an event. This event was organized on September 28th 2023 as a physical meeting hosted by VITO in Mol (Belgium). All stakeholders involved in algae value chains were welcome to attend the event and to share experiences.

Revisit the programme and presentations, the posters and the project videos that were shown during the event on the Final Event page.

Virtual algae inspiration tour across (NW)Europe

IDEA envisions the development and enrolment of economic viable value chains based on micro-algae in NWEurope. For that we need to interact with everybody active in that chain.

We made a digital inspiration tour that offers you the possibility to 'visit' actors in the micro algae chain and get in touch with them. This at your own speed when you have time for it!vYou can see different colors of dots on the map representing the different links in the value chain. Every dot gives access to contact info and a corporate video. By watching the video, you can 'visit' the company. Do you have further questions? Contact the company!

Have a nice trip and be careful!

Do you miss your or other companies? Please contact Kristof Severijns:

IDEA webinar- July 6th 2021

During the event findings of the IDEA project were presented by the project partners covering among others year round micro algae growth in NWeurope, increasing sustainability of micro algae growth and harvest, wet preservation of algae biomass, processing of algae biomass into products, algae-based product evaluation (feed/food/cosmetics), whole value chain assessment for techno-economic and logistic aspects, and a roadmap towards implementation of an economic viable algae value chain. Further, interactions with other projects (like ValgOrize) & stakeholders will be enabled to get a broader view on opportunities/barriers for algae in Europe.



Plenary presentations


Algae growth

Algae harvest & sustainability aspects

  • Interference of aom in coagulation of microalgae: influence of coagulant type and coagulation mechanism
    Pappa, m., s. Lama, w. Marchal, d. Vandamme
    Watch the e-poster
  • Dewatering and desalting of different algae species using submerged membranes (maf-technology)
    Van roy, s., h. Sterckx, f. Vanhoof, q. Simons,  l. Bastiaens
    Watch the e-poster
  • Medium re-use during pilot scale algae cultivation facilitated by submerged membranes (maf-technology)
    Bastiaens, l., s. Van roy, q. Simons, j. Verspreet, h.sterckx, f. Vanhoof, f. Schoeters, s. Van miert, c. Kuchendorf, d. Reinecke-levi
    Watch the e-poster
  • Dynamic modelling and optimization of a fixed bed direct air capture system
    H.m. schellevis, t.n. van schagen, j.d. de la combé and d.w.f. brilman 
    Watch the e-poster
  • CO2 capture from air to provide a sustainable carbon source for microalgae cultivation
    H.m. schellevis, j.d. de la combé, f. Schoeters, s. Van miert, c. Kuchendorf, l.bastiaens and d.w.f. brilman 
    Watch the e-poster

Processing of algae biomass

Applications & formulations with algae biomass

Algae value chains

Farmer's microalgae webinar - September 16 - 17 2020 (ENG + FR)

You can review all presentations from our microalgae webinar in French and English here

FZ Jülich Workshop - January 16th 2020
Algae trip Holland - March 28-29 2019

Innovatiesteunpunt has organised a two-day field trip to visit several algae growers and processors in The Netherlands. 10 people were very interested in visiting the various companies such as the Algaeparc (University of Wageningen) and Roem Van Yerseke (a grower of algae). You can read the report about this trip here in Dutch.

Results related to algae growth and harvest

  • Growth of cold adapted algae

  • CO2 capture from air in a radial flow contactor

  • A membrane based harvesting and water re-use technology (MAF-technology)

Results related to algae processing

  • Wet preservation of Nannochloropsis & Porphyridium biomass

  • Processing of Nannochloropsis biomass: from photobioreactor to algae fractions

Results related to algae value chains

  • TV-Oost report of the Heirbaut LV open day. About 100 people with different background took the opportunity to see the algae growth and MAF harvesting infrastructure, and to taste Chlorella containing food like waffles, ice-cream, chocolate and cheese.

 To help people understand our project IDEA better, we made an infographic.

You can read our IDEA folder here.

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