Algae are a large group of simple aquatic organisms that have long been grown and harvested for many different uses.
They can be found in a variety of food and beauty products on the supermarket shelves, but exciting scientific developments in recent years have also revealed their bioenergy potential. As fossil fuel resources continue to decline around the globe, it is vital that new sources of fuel are identified and developed.
The EnAlgae project has received funding to develop algal bioenergy technologies at nine pilot facilities and to advance the emerging marketplace in North West Europe.
An INTERREG IVB North West Strategic Initiative
EnAlgae is a four-year Strategic Initiative of the INTERREG IVB North West Europe programme. It brings together 19 partners and 14 observers across 7 EU Member States with the aim of developing sustainable technologies for algal biomass production.
Click to find out more about EnAlgae
Download the programme here
EnAlgae Final Report Card
Our final report card has been published and is now available for download.
Get your copy here.
Panning for Green Gold: Developing the algal bioeconomy
Our documentary is finished and ready for you to view and enjoy.
It charts the work which has been undertaken by EnAlgae over the life of the project, places it in the context of what else is happening across the world and offers a glimpse of where the technologies developed by EnAlgae could develop further in the future.
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Sofie Van Den Hende
What’s your main role within the EnAlgae project?
Together with my Howest colleagues Han and Veerle, I keep an inventory of pilot reactors in Belgium. I also help design and operate our own micro-algae pilot reactor, and I additionally contribute by sharing data and developing standard operation procedures and best practice.
What were you doing before you joined the project?
I have always loved working with plants. In 1999, I graduated as a bio-engineer in agricultural plant production at University Ghent and then went to Thailand for my master’s thesis on cryopreservation of Thai banana cultivars. Afterwards, I mainly worked on agroforestry, permaculture design, teaching and soil erosion control in Belgium, Ecuador and Australia. A lot of variety, but always some plant production involved! At the end of 2008, I started my PhD on micro-plants: micro-algae. I’ve also been teaching integrated water policy, ecology, lab chemistry and applied environmental science at University College West-Flanders to master’s and bachelor students of industrial engineering. For my PhD research, I’ve been focusing on wastewater and flue gas treatment in microalgal bacterial flocs (MaB-flocs) reactors on lab scale. I’m very grateful that within the EnAlgae project, and with financial support of the Flemish Government, Province West-Flanders, it will be possible to test this MaB-floc technology outdoors at several agro-industrial sites.
Why are you interesting in EnAlgae?
The project presents an excellent and unique opportunity to collaborate with a large community of EnAlgae colleagues, plus local and international stakeholders. We also have the chance to carry out innovative work such as testing the MaB-floc reactors on pilot scale at an outdoors site with real flue gas. We are also supported in communicating our work by presenting project results at ‘info sessions’ and organising algae field trips.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, I’m helping with the construction and launch of the MaB-floc pre-pilot (400 litres) and pilot reactor (12,000 litres), including data-logging. Next to this, together with Veerle, I’m growing MaB-floc inoculum for these reactors, working on a MaB-floc harvesting system.
Tell us something else about yourself:
I grow food in my garden according to permaculture design rules. I also enjoy preparing food in the kitchen, including algaenever, an algae spirit drink; seawead curry; spirulina tagliatelli and even algae cup cakes! When I have time I like to go running around the lake ‘The Gavers’ or I go bouldering.
There is a famous quote that ‘the earth without art is just... eh.’ It’s interesting that ART also stands for algae research and technology - for me, the earth without algae research and technology would be ‘eh’!