In the centre of this process are bioreactors that act as biofactors and can be used on Earth and in space. In June 2019, the team will demonstrate the bioreactor and produce bioproducts such as bioplastics and acrylonitrile, a precursor of carbon fibres.
Looking for biofuels, proteins, biopolymers and other interesting chemicals that have commercial value in a green economy, the team is researching the development of prototype bioreactors that maximise growth and number of algae cells and test the biochemical composition of algae.
On Earth, bioproducts would contribute to a biocircular economy by creating more sustainable product markets, expanding markets and creating green jobs. Biofuels could replace fossil fuels while reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Algae processes also have synergies with other technologies, such as the conversion of PV algae facades into electricity, biofuels and biopolymers. Algae bioreactors can improve the biogas produced by anaerobic digestion of bio-waste and purify the biogas. In space bioreactors, factories could produce bioproducts through additive production, since most of the materials needed for a space station and deeper exploration in space cannot be transported from Earth.
Another advantage is that algae can contribute to life support systems on the Moon or Mars. They can recycle human waste and convert carbon dioxide exhaled by humans into oxygen in space stations.