Development of a prototype for converting agricultural residues into animal feed using heterotrophic microalgae

AlgoWert is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) funded project, coordinated by the German Institute of Good Technologies e.V. (DIL e.V.),partnered up by the Institute for Food and Environmental Research e.V. (ILU e.V.) and Schroeder Winkelmann GbR. This project aims to pilot a sustainable, resource-saving technology for converting plant by-products into usable components (in particular protein-rich algae biomass) near agricultural operations and to integrate it into a daily routine.

In the project, by-products from vegetable production are processed through hydrolysis and use of the hydrolyzate as a nutrient source for heterogeneous microalgae. The product of the process is a protein-rich algae biomass, which the involved farmer Ralf Schröder from Lower Saxony can use as animal feed for pig fattening. In addition to piloting the process on-site and integrating it into the daily routine of the farm, the focus of the project is the establishment of new value chains, as well as activating a circular economy in farms, generating new sales channels and additional income. Besides providing opportunities for an intensive exchange with external farmers to continuously improve the process during the project period, to achieve complete integration and to achieve marketability, the project aims to reduce environmental pollution and the risk of dependence on external sources of nutrients. By using decentralized processes, there is an increase in (1) knowledge and technology transfer as well as operational innovation promotion by establishing efficient recycling of residues, (2) competitiveness of agricultural production sites through the efficient production of alternative high-quality biomass and (3) development of rural areas through alternative marketing systems agricultural products as well as the further development of agricultural structures, taking into account changing consumer expectations (increased demand for vegetable proteins). The project not only focuses on the economic and technical aspects of the process but also on the social and ecological aspects to contribute to a sustainable bioeconomy.