Within the project, 7 different Work Packages (WP) were designed and are being developed:
WP1: The selected Spirulina strain (Arthrospira sp.) is studied simultaneously with a significant number of other strains to identify the one with the highest tolerance to CO2 gas mixtures, combined with maximum biomass production. The study is carried out to small-scale cultivations, by monitoring biomass and biochemical production rates, alongside with the investigation of toxicity issues and the presence of bioactive compounds or secondary metabolites.
WP2: The study of CO2 bioconversion (as gaseous pollutant) into valuable bioproducts is scaled-up to the photo-bioreactor (PBR) scale, where a limited number (3-5) of optimized strains are cultivated at fully controlled illumination and carbon source supply conditions. By optimizing and intensifying innovative PBRs, the impact on the bioprocess of CO2 emissions from plants of the power grid of Greece is studied.
WP3: The recovery of cultivated biomass is optimized through conventional and innovative processes (e.g., immobilized cells). Additionally, the separation of bioactive compounds is carried out following the complete fractionation of biomass into its components (i.e., proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids), through the application of novel enzymatic processes, thus reducing the use of organic solvents. At the same time, the possibility of recovering extracellular biochemical products (e.g., exopolysaccharides) is investigated.
WP4: The primary (bioactive) and complementary (fractionated biomass) bioproducts are fully characterized in both quantitative and qualitative terms, with focus on the chemical composition of each fraction, in relation to the different CO2 mixtures. Their purity is assessed through microbiological, chemical and genetic methodologies. The assessment is primarily carried out in accordance to the targeted applications/specifications, i.e., cosmetics and nutritional products (e.g., antioxidant properties). Secondly, the bioactive compounds are encapsulated into matrices of proteins and polysaccharides in order to enhance their stability and activity. The assessment is completed by studying their antimicrobial activity before/after their encapsulation.
WP5: Subsequently, all the above actions are integrated in a single value chain in order to evaluate the proposed technology at the industrial scale. In particular, the potential of power plants' CO2 utilization is explored, in-line with domestic market data, as well as related constraints and requirements. The complete bioprocess is simulated in appropriate software tools in order to derive relevant techno-economic assessment and life-cycle analysis (LCA) studies.
WP6: The dual goal of the project is completed by developing a relevant business plan, in order to exploit the technologies and mainly the bioproducts of the integrated process, by exploring their commercial implementation through a marketing plan.
WP7: The project is completed with the participation in trade exhibitions, in order to promote the newly developed or improved bioproducts, to become informed about relevant technological innovations and expand the client-associate cycle of the involved companies.