HydroMicPro - Hydrogen from microalgae: with cell and reactor design to profitable production

  • Project team:

    Patyk, Andreas (Project leader); Annika Weiss

  • Funding:


  • Start date:


  • End date: 2013
  • Project partners:

    Institut für Bio- und Lebensmitteltechnik (Verbund-Koordination), Engler-Bunte-Institut, Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse, Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS GmbH (Wendelsheim), Institut für Getreideverarbeitung GmbH (Nuthetal), Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie (Potsdam), OHB-System AG (Bremen), Universität Bielefeld

  • Research group:

    Research for Sustainable Energy Technologies

Project description

A less investigated process for generating hydrogen is the photosynthesis by microalgae. However, the generation of hydrogen is only one of a number of alternatives to produce bioenergy by or from microalgae. Reasons for the principal interest in microalgae: Theoretically microalgae show high biomass yields per area, a corresponding CO2 fixation and potentially high oil contents. They are cultivated in ponds or closed bioreactors, require no specific soil quality and do not compete for land with food production. For nutrient supply waste water and CO2 containing exhaust gases can be used.

In the frame of support program "Basic research Energy 2020+", topic "Solar energy technology of the next generation" the joint project HydroMicPro is supplied by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. By combining biotechnology and process engineering innovative photo-bioreactors shall be developed in which genetically optimized microalgae shall produce efficiently and environmentally sound hydrogen. A milestone is the optimization of the biomass production.

Accompanying the R&D work the HydroMicPro technology is analyzed from the viewpoint of sustainability. Goal of the analysis is the identification of ecological and (socio-)economical hot spots of the technology and of optimal application fields in comparison to competing technologies. The work is done mainly in the scope of a doctoral theses (Annika Weiss). The applied methods are material flow and life cycle based (environmental Life Cycle Assessment - LCA, Life Cycle Costing - LCC). The project is divided into five work packages which are executed in strong cooperation with the partners.

  1. Basic system and method related definitions
  2. Modelling
  3. Data generation
  4. Calculation and LCA/LCC interpretation
  5. Analysis of additional sustainability aspects

Modelling and data will be up-dated in the course of the project according to the state of the technical work. The results of the up-dated LCA are feed back into the development process.


Book Chapters
Weiss, A.
Beiträge der Energieerzeugung mit Mikroalgen zu nachhaltiger Energieversorgung und -nutzung?
2012. Der Systemblick auf Innovation : Technikfolgenabschätzung in der Technikgestaltung. Hrsg.: M. Decker, 451–454, edition sigma 
Weiss, A.
Mikroalgen - Grenzen des Wachstums. Systemanalytische Betrachtungen zu Energieträgern aus Mikroalgen
2012. 8. Ökobilanzwerkstatt des Fraunhofer Institut für Bauphysik (2012), Stuttgart, Germany, September 4–6, 2012 
Weiss, A.
LCA of energy from microalgae
2011. EABA Algae Biomass Conference and Expo (2011), Brussels, Belgium, November 29–30, 2011 


Dr. Andreas Patyk
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe

Tel.: +49 721 608-24606