The Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built a worldwide one-of-a-kind technical facility for algae cultivation at the Ludwig Bölkow Campus in Ottobrunn to the south of Munich in cooperation with Airbus Group. Efficient processes for producing biokerosene and chemical products from algae will be developed there. The AlgaeTec facility was inaugurated today in the presence of the Bavarian Minister of Education, Cultural Affairs, Science and the Arts, Dr. Ludwig Spaenle, Airbus Group’s Chief Technical Officer, Dr. Jean Botti, and TUM president, Professor Wolfgang A. Herrmann.
The 1,500 square meter building houses three areas for algae cultivation, as well as laboratory and office space. What sets the Ottobrunn algae center apart is the fact that lighting and climate conditions for practically any location on Earth can be simulated. Airbus Group and the Bavarian Ministry of Education, Cultural Affairs, Science and the Arts are sharing the costs of just over ten million euros for the facility and the equipment.
Scientists estimate that there are some 150,000 different types of algae. Around 5,000 of them have been fundamentally characterized, yet only around ten species have been implemented for commercial exploitation. With their new algae facility, researchers aim to change this. They hope to develop efficient processes for the production of biokerosene and chemical products there.
“While the production of biofuels from corn implies a problematic competition between nutritional use and fuel,” says Professor Thomas Brück, Professor for Industrial Biocatalysis at the Technical University of Munich, “algae also grow in saltwater and require neither arable land nor pesticides. Still, they can generate up to ten times higher yields per hectare and year.”
“With this algae center, we are providing science with a research facility that is unique worldwide,” says Bavarian Science Minister Dr. Ludwig Spaenle. “At the same time, it is also a strategic investment into the economic region of Bavaria. After all, only through permanent innovation can we thrive in the face of worldwide competition.”
“The investment in the AlgaeTec facility on the Ludwig Bölkow Campus once again underscores Airbus Group’s strong interest and involvement in the development of renewable fuel technologies,” says Dr. Jean Botti, Chief Technical Officer of Airbus Group.
Research on biofuel from algae starts at Ludwig Bölkow Campus, uniting Technical University of Munich, Airbus Group & Partners. The 1,500 square meter building houses three areas for algae cultivation, as well as laboratory and office space. The building’s façade is comprised of special highly transparent glass that also lets ultraviolet light pass through while elaborate climate technology and additional LED lighting allows the simulation of light and climate conditions of practically any location on Earth. The strategy of Airbus Group Innovations is to focus the research of its partners on sustainable sources of biomass, as an example with micro-algae, which have emerged as one of the most promising sources of biofuels.