A sustainable biotech & industry partnership

Solvays Peroxides’ plant in Portugal has partnered with a local biotech company for the on-site production of microalgae that will capture the equivalent of all its CO2 emissions, and even more!

The ALGATEC Eco Business Park project has been designed to produce and harvest microalgae for various products and applications, with the enormous benefit that, in the process, the harvested microalgae capture and use CO2. The Portuguese Algae for Future (A4F) biotech company and investor LusoAmoreiras initiated this project, which is under development at Solvay’s Peroxides site in Povoa (Portugal).

Collaboration for decarbonation

This is good news for Solvay, and in particular for the Group’s commitment on greenhouse gas emissions. Today, Solvay’s Povoa site emits carbon dioxide via its steam generator. When the ALGATEC project will be fully up and running, the microalgae production is expected to capture about 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which will correspond to more than Povoa’s total emissions. Therefore, as early as 2020, the Povoa plant is set to become a CO2-neutral installation.

“The impact of the ALGATEC project’s co-localization with Solvay’s operations in Povoa is great,” says Arlindo Carvalho, Solvay Povoa’s Production & Energy Manager.  “The microalgae production platform adds quite innovative technologies, generates highly qualified jobs and enhances synergies. Even more relevant, though, is having a partner company capable of capturing and using all of our direct CO2 emissions. This is a wonderful example of collaboration at work, enabling Povoa to become a zero-CO2 emission site.” 

ALGATEC is currently exploring an initial area of 4,000 square meters, which corresponds to about 30 cubic meters of culture of a species of microalgae called Nannochloropsis. At project completion in August 2020, the 14 ha production area, microbiology laboratory and industrial biorefinery will become the largest microalgae production platform in Europe.

“Having a partner company capable of capturing and using all of our direct CO2 emissions is a wonderful example of collaboration at work, enabling Povoa to become a zero-CO2 emission site.”

Arlindo Carvalho, Production & Energy Manager, Solvay Povoa
Microalgae on green walls

A growing market for microalgae

After the initial culture and an intermediate stage of growth and concentration in the ALGATEC laboratory, the microalgae are transferred to “green walls” located on the industrial site ‒ 50 flat panels, each 20 meters long ‒ where they find the right conditions for growth, i.e. sun exposure, carbon dioxide and optimized culture media (water and nutrients).

Algae biodiesel illustration

Then the microalgae move on to final processing by filtration and centrifugation, producing a significant volume of high-value biomass. Microalgae species are a rich source of nutrients such as lipids (omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids), proteins, antioxidants and vitamins. They represent an emerging sustainable opportunity either as a source of raw material or as final products in a rapidly increasing global market for food, animal feed, cosmetics, pharma, bio fibers, fertilizers, wastewater treatment, soil remediation, and biofuel.

Find out more about ALGATEC ‒ Eco Business Park