Development of superior algal strains for the bioenergy production

Algae - an ecological alternative for common production processes? The binational research cooperation „Sino-German lab for algae bioenergy (short: Sigal4NRG)“ investigates algae as a sustainable resource for bioenergy, especially the generation of biodiesel and hydrogen from algae. The project of the „Single Cell Center“ at CAS Institute of BioEnergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) in Qingdao (China) and the department of Plant Biochemistry/Photobiotechnology group at the Ruhr-University in Bochum will investigate the biological production of energy with algae in the form of biodiesel from Nannochloropsis oceanica  and in form of hydrogen (H2) from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii  in a joint laboratory. The research addresses the strain features that limit production of these renewable and environmentally friendly energy sources. For example, for the biocatalytical H2-production, oxygen tolerance still must be improved. Hence, the scientific aim of the project is the development of novel algal strains without limitations for the generation of algal bioenergy, thus making the process economically competitive with conventional processes. Sigal4NRG was selected as one of more than 160 project proposals submitted to the announcement of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) „Establishment of joint research centres in Asia and Oceania”.[1] The Sino-German project, which started in August 2017, is funded by the BMBF for the establishment of a research presence in the partnership country and for the cross-linking of scientific expertise, thus substantially contributing to the strategy of leveraging research and science by internationalisation.

Project aims

The project „Sino-German lab for algae bioenergy“ ought to significantly support the set-up of a sustained research presence for the department Plant Biochemistry/Photobiotechnology group at the „QIBEBT Single Cell Center“. Scientific aim of the laboratory is the development of improved algal strains for the biological production of algal energy. To achieve this aim, the following measures will be taken:

  • Cross-linking of complementary scientific and methods expertise of each research group and the enabling of access to unique technologies for the German and Chinese researchers, respectively.
  • Joint workshops to provide training in complementary techniques and a joint access to superior algal strains to promote the investigation of biofuel production (lipids and hydrogen).
  • Provision of infrastructure in the respective partnership country
These activities will pave the way to establish the „Sino-German lab for algae bioenergy“ as future international competence centre for the development of superior algal strains.