The Blue Chain

Creation of a new biobased sector in the region Flanders - the Netherlands for phycocyanin (natural blue colorant produced by the microalga Spirulina) for a variety of high quality applications.

Period: 

01/2016 to 12/2018

Budget: 

€2 748 751.73

Greenhouse horticulture is under pressure from rising costs and increasing global competition. Flanders and the Netherlands have therefore adopted a policy of supporting greenhouse horticulture in order to achieve necessary transition and associated modernization. With the commercial cultivation of microalgae, good for high value applications in textile industries, paper and carton industries and composites is a way to extend the existing range of possibilities. Spirulina offers within the range of microalgae an enormous potential because it is a major source of phycocyanin (blue colorant). It can be a valuable replacement of the artificial variant: for example in food, where Brilliant Blue (E133) is associated with hyperactivity and other health risks, but also in other sectors like textile industries, paper and carton industries and composites. Currently, most microalgae are imported from Asia or the United States at rather low prices. Production in Flanders and the Netherlands should therefore have a high quality to make a difference. Also the logistic process from cultivation to processing should be economically interesting to have enough buyers of these microalgae an phycocyanin. Greenhouses are ideal to produce microalgae and in the region there are enough people present with the necessary technical knowledge to realize this culture in a qualitative and efficient manner. A special surplus within the project is the cultivation of aquatic plant duckweed in wastewater for water purification. This project aims to establish a new large-scale industry. If this culture proves to be profitable, there is room for dozens of hectares of microalgae cultivation under glass or on container fields, allowing the Flemish-Dutch border region to be a valuable player on a global scale.

Project Coordinator:

  • PCG (Provinciaal Proefcentrum voor de Groenteteelt Oost-Vlaanderen)

Project partners:

  • Inagro (Innovatief en duurzaam Agrarisch Ondernemen)
  • POM Oost-Vlaanderen
  • Centexbel
  • Millvision B.V.
  • BOM Business Development & Foreign Investments B.V.
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
  • Stichting Avans
  • Agropolis
  • Universiteit Gent

Project map: 

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