LIFE Algar-BBE Project

Neoalgae, together with Endesa and CTAEX, leads a European LIFE project in order to develop new Biostimulants with biocidal effect from microalgae

04 September 2019

The biotechnology SME NEOALGAE will lead a new LIFE project that has just been granted and signed with the objective of developing new bio-stimulants with biocidal effect that will be tested on tomato and corn crops and will reduce the use of pesticides by 56%.

The LIFE ALGAR-BBE project (microALGae with ARomatic plants as Biostimulants with Biocide Effect) will also have the participation of the electricity company ENDESA and the Extremadura National Agrifood Technology Center CTAEX. With a duration of 4 years and a global budget of € 1,276,642 (of which 700,671 EU are funded by the LIFE Program of the European Union), the project will address the damage caused by pesticides used in agriculture. They will be developed 3 formulations of biostimulants from microalgae and other plant residues and with a biocidal effect provided by aromatic plant extracts, which will be used as a phytosanitary defense medium in industrial and corn tomato crops.

The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action created in 1992. The current funding period 2014-2020 has a budget of €3.4 billion. The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation by co-financing projects with European added value. The European Commission (DG Environment and DG Climate Action) manages the LIFE programme. The Commission has delegated the implementation of many components of the LIFE programme to the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). External selection, monitoring and communication teams provide assistance to the Commission and EASME.

NEOALGAE is an innovative SME focused on microalgae biotechnology, created in 2012 with the aim of closing the gap between the laboratory scale and industrial processes in the field of microalgae applications. This Asturian SME, with experience in biofertilizer production, thanks to its SPIRAGRO line, will lead the LIFE ALGAR-BBE project and at the technical level it will be in charge of developing the extractions and preparing the biostimulants from its microalgae crop plant in Gijón. This plant, which is its main facility and has 1,500 m2, has been funded in part by Phase II of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument, and equipped with: offices, a greenhouse with the necessary equipment to develop microalgae crops, biotechnology laboratories, extraction and purification laboratory, cosmetics laboratory, production and packaging area, warehouses and microalgae strains.

ENDESA is the leading company in the Spanish electricity sector and the second operator in the electricity market in Portugal. The main business is the generation, distribution and sale of electricity and the company is a relevant operator in the natural gas sector and development of other energy related services. Precisely, associated with its energy production activity and within the commitment to the environment, in 2009, ENDESA began its journey in the study of the cultivation of microalgae together with other industrial partners and with the collaboration of numerous Research Organizations and Universities, in the pilot CO2 capture plant through microalgae of the Carboneras thermal power plant, in Almería. This plant was initially conceived for the capture and recovery of CO2 (main greenhouse gas, GHG), and is currently a pilot plant with real microalgae production capacity, where different systems and cultivation reactors have been studied for different species such as Nannochloropsis gaditana, Chlorella, Spirulina and Isochrysis galbana, among others. Therefore, within the project, ENDESA will develop the cultures of different microalgae and produce the biomass necessary for the production of biostimulants.

The “Extremadura” National Agrifood Technology Center - CTAEX- is a non-profit business association established in 2000 whose objective is to support agrifood companies through R + D + i and technology transfer, actively participating in the achievement of the competitive excellence of the agri-food sector. In 2004, the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science recognized it as a Technology Center (No. 80) and as a Center for Transfer of Research Results (No. 189). CTAEX has greenhouses and an experimental farm of 23 hectares, 4 of them certified for organic production, useful for agronomic trials and large-scale crops. It also has a wide variety of machinery that covers almost any type of manufacturing process. CTAEX will be in charge of the project to validate the formulations developed in the field, both in crops in the Extremadura region and in the Alentejo area (Portugal).

In addition to the technical tasks mentioned above, LIFE ALGAR-BBE, being a LIFE project, will carry out environmental monitoring, socio-economic impact study and life cycle analysis. Therefore, the project will implement, evaluate and disseminate a new approach in the context of sustainable agriculture: biostimulants with biocidal activity, through the development of at least 3 formulations of biostimulants from microalgae with the biocidal effect that provide different aromatic plant extracts, which will be validated in industrial tomato and corn crops.