Stuttgart – 07.05.2015

On our excursion in Stuttgart we visited the Fraunhofer IGB (Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology). Christian Bringmann gave us an insight into the research field of microalgae.
Single-celled plants that reproduce like bacteria by way of cell division but also carry out photosynthesis in order to build up biomass. Compared to their relatives on land, they use photosynthesis much more effectively and build up five to ten times more biomass.
There are an estimated 200,000 microalgae species. So far, 3,000 species are known. Their occurrence ranges from puddles and lakes to rivers and salty seas. Interest in the microalgae exists in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, chemistry and energy production. They can be used to produce oils and fats (70%), pigments and nutrients such as proteins, calcium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B12, vitamin E and starch. In order to meet the needs of the food, cosmetics and biofuel industries, the Fraunhofer IGB is researching the optimization of breeding reactors to enable the industrial production of microalgae.
A basis was created with the flat-panel reactor. Deep-drawn, vertical panels in which a nutrient solution containing microalgae is circulated and irradiated by artificial or natural light. By adding CO2, the reproduction of the microalgae is stimulated and brought to a certain concentration. Once this concentration is reached, the algae are filtered, dried and are ready for further processing.
In one day, one gram of microalgae forms in one litre, which bind or require two grams of CO2.

Introduction by Christian Bringmann

text: Patrick Thomas