A biorefinery project based on microalgae

In a global context of resources scarcity and environment preservation, finding new options to fossil fuels is a big challenge. The Salinalgue project aims at cultivating a native microalgae (Dunaliella salina) at industrial scale in open ponds which are old salty lands.  Based on the biorefinery concept, biodiesel and others byproducts (as bioproducts…) will be produced  from microalgae.

The Salinalgue project has different goals:

  •  Open-ponds culture in extreme conditions
  • Use of CO2 gas from industrial exhaust pipes as input for the culture of microalgae
  • Use of wet extraction process: avoiding the energy-costing process of drying the biomass
  • Producing all by-products from the algae biomass.

Salinalgue project is lead by La Compagnie du Vent which works with industrial and institutionnal partners.

 The environmental approach is important and based on an environmental assessment all along the 4-year-project. One of the main goal is to design a sustainable way to produce biodiesel and other byproducts from microalgae.

The Life Cycle Assessment method assesses the environmental impacts of a product or a service. LCA allows to identify the hotspots where the process chain can be optimised, to compare different options and to keep a holistic point of view.

Salinalgue(2011-2014, funded by the French single interministerial fund) Bioenergy and other byproducts from microalgae culture in old salty lands.
Contact: Mélissa Cornelus, Arnaud Hélias

Arnaud Hélias

Arnaud Hélias is an agronomist (Master’s degree, 2000) and a PhD (2003) in process engineering from Montpellier SupAgro.

After a research engineer position INRA (2004-2007) in food processing, he is now associate professor at  Montpellier SupAgro since 2008. His teachings are dedicated to ecotechnology, with a focus on environmental assessment, which are mainly carried out by life cycle assessment approaches. His research activities are performed in the Laboratory of Environmental Biotechnology. He is the Elsa group leader since 2014.

Topics: Ecodesign, Training, Life cycle assessment, microalgae, seaweed, anaerobic digestion, dynamical modelling, inventory.


BioFimE: Control of biofilms in paper mill process by combined actions of low environmental impact

Production of pulp, paper and cardboard is one of the most water-consuming industrial process. Since twenty years, the law encourages industrial sites to reduce their water consumption and their discharge to the nature.

The paper industry tries to reduce the water consumption in its processes: between 1970 and 2004, the amount of fresh water consumed per ton of paper has been reduced of 90% (source CEPI[1]). Nevertheless, the closed loop and the water recycling in paper industry lead to the creation of biological sedimentation named biofilm (or slime) in water pipes and paper machine .

Those biofilms lead to major issues as stop of paper production … The chemical agents used as treatment present some health and environmental dangers.  Some laws may forbid the use of some agents of this type. Therefore, paper mills and producers of those chemical agents are in search of alternatives.

The BioFimE project aims at reducing chemical agents consumption in paper industry by trying to fight against biofilms with mechanical, chemical and biological actions. Those complementary actions should be respectful towards the environment and adapted to the production context.

The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) aims at assessing the different options to fight against biofilms and identify the hotspots.

[1] Confederation of European Paper Industries

BioFimE (2009-2011, funded by the French National Research Agency) Control of biofilms in paper mill process by combined actions of low environmental impact.
Contact: Mélissa Cornélus, Arnaud Hélias