At TU Delft, we develop cultivation strategies to be able to produce sustainable alternatives for oil and gas using aquatic biomass production platforms. Aquatic biomass covers both marine macro- and marine microalgae. These are key players in the global carbon cycle. Around half of global photosynthesis, in which carbon dioxide is converted into organic matter and oxygen is produced, takes place in the oceans. Aquatic biomass account for half of the oxygen production nowadays.
Energy production with aquatic biomass
Macro- and microalgae can supply a biobased society with chemicals, food and fuel precursors. Applications range from high-value compounds, such as high-value ω-3-oils to low-value carbohydrates or lipids. The production of biofuels based on lipids or carbohydrates produced by aquatic biomass attracts considerable scientific interest nowadays.
The main reason for this is that combustion of fuels derived from aquatic biomass would not increase atmospheric CO2 levels, as the CO2 released upon combustion has recently been withdrawn from the atmosphere by the aquatic biomass. Besides, both freshwater- and (agricultural) land demand are minimal if marine aquatic biomass is used as production platform.
Producing a cheap commodity as fuels on large scale in a marine environment gives however rise to numerous challenges. These range from biological issues (how to deal with contamination, how to increase productivity?) to infrastructural challenges (how to construct cultivation systems that endure marine conditions, how to supply nutrients?)
The role of TU Delft
At TU Delft, we develop robust and low-tech microalgal cultivation processes which can be applied under marine conditions at large-scale. We are always interested to collaborate with academic and industrial partners to make energy production by aquatic biomass a reality in the near future. For further information or questions, please contact: Peter Mooij