Carbon-capture to feed startup sets up pilot plant in Denmark

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Photo compilation from opening ceremony for Algiecel’s new pilot plant © Algiecel
Photo compilation from opening ceremony for Algiecel’s new pilot plant © Algiecel

Related tags carbon capture omega-3 Protein

Algiecel says its pilot-scale, mobile container-based photobioreactor utilizing algae to sequester CO2 emissions from industrial processes is now operational.

The pilot unit is located at the Danish Technological Institute (DTU) in Taastrup, Denmark. That institute has secured access to laboratories, facilities, and competencies within the microalgae cultivation area.

The idea is that Algiecel’s container-based photobioreactors, using microalgae organisms, will capture CO2 for conversion into high value commodity products such as omega-3 oils and protein to be used in food and feed products.

Juan Farré, president and CEO of the DTU, said that “the opening [of the pilot facility] marks the establishment by the Danish Technological Institute of an ecosystem giving start-up companies access to an integrated platform of testing and demonstration facilities within the space of future foods and the green transition.”

In March, we reported that Algiecel had received funding of around £400K (US$525K) from Denmark’s BioInnovation Institute (BII) for the construction and testing of the carbon capture pilot plant.

At the launch of the pilot operations, Jens Nielsen, the CEO of BII, said he was impressed by how quickly Algiecel has advanced to this stage, that it is now initiating experiments at pilot scale. “But speed is unfortunately important as we rapidly need new technologies like the ones Algiecel is providing to make sure that we can create a sustainable society.”

Mobile solution 

The photobioreactor technology is easy to install, scale and operate, said the founder of Algiecel, Henrik Busch-Larsen, in March. He is the former CEO of single cell protein pioneer, Unibio.

As the Algiecel solution has been made mobile it can thus be installed with ease at a biogas or fermentation plant where CO2 emissions, he added. The plan would be to have several such container units installed at the one site to fully capture the carbon emitted.

Revenue-sharing concept

The startup is looking to champion a new revenue-sharing business model to offer carbon capture as a service to industrial clients.

Busch-Larsen said he started Algiecel mid-2021, with the vision of making CO2 removal cost-neutral.

He and the team have designed a business model that looks to transform the cost challenge of CO2 removal and potential emission penalties into a profitable business opportunity across the entire value chain: “Carbon emitters would need to invest in the photobioreactor but, when we start producing omega-3 oils and protein, the revenue from sales of those derivative products will be shared with the clients so, over time, the process would be cost-neutral, with clients, eventually, running a small profit off the back of their CO2 problem.”

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