Institute for Technology Assessment and  Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Analysis and scenarios for the use of microalgae as food

Project description

Microalgae produce biomass with high quality ingredients from carbon dioxide and inorganic substances. These ingredients can be made usable for human nutrition by suitable production, harvesting, and biorefinery procedures. Microalgae can be cultivated in technical systems on marginal land and do not need to compete for land used for traditional food production. They produce up to five times the yields of traditional crops and considerably higher contents of oils and proteins than, for example, rapeseed or soy. They have a very high nutritional value, among others due to their content of omega-3-fatty acids and proteins. Thus, they provide a good starting point to contribute to responsible and sustainable development of nutrition. So far, their potential has hardly been realized. The most commercially important microalgae are Chlorella and Spirulina as food supplements, Dunaliella salina as a source of beta-carotene, and Haematococcus pluvialis for the production of the food colorant astaxanthin. The algae are mostly used without processing or only for special ingredients that are extracted. Other potential uses of microalgae, such as the extraction of proteins to substitute animal protein or soy protein, have not been considered yet.

The aim of this project is to analyze the use of microalgae for the production of food by using the example of the production of algal protein, and to develop algae scenarios for nutrition. To this end, cost estimates, life cycle assessments (LCAs) and a stakeholder workshop will be performed. The focus of the LCAs is on the mass and energy balances and the impact on climate change and resource use. These will be shown for selected algae process chains. Furthermore, narrative scenarios will be developed that describe the drivers and development corridors for the use of microalgae. Finally, a transdisciplinary workshop with experts and stakeholders will be held to identify opportunities and challenges of microalgae-based food and to discuss the resulting barriers and necessary changes.


Book Chapters
Rösch, C.; Roßmann, M.
Mikroalgen statt Fleisch und Soja – die Ernährung der Zukunft?.
2020. Bioökonomie nachhaltig gestalten. Hrsg.: W. Konrad, 343–364, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. doi:10.1007/978-3-658-29433-5_13
Journal Articles
Rösch, C.; Roßmann, M.; Weickert, S.
Microalgae for integrated food and fuel production.
2018. Global change biology / Bioenergy, 11 (SI, 1), 326–334. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12579
Rösch, C.
Microalgae as an alternative and sustainable protein source.
2018. IFT18 : A Matter of Science and Food, Chicago, IL, July 15-18, 2018 
Rösch, C.
Algen - die Rohstoffproduzenten der Zukunft.
2018. Frauen-Akademie Karlsruhe, 16.April 2018 
Rösch, C.; Roßmann, M.
Key narratives on microalgae for food production.
2018. Congress FOOD 2030: Towards Sustainable Agri-Food Systems, Stuttgart-Hohenheim, September 5-6, 2018 
Rösch, C.; Roßmann, M.
Transdisciplinary development of narratives on algae-based food.
2018. 8th International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts, Seattle, WA, June 11-13, 2018 
Rösch, C.; Roßmann, M.
Wandel in der Ernährung: Visionen der Nahrungsmittelproduktion aus Mikroalgen.
2018. Workshop “Bioökonomie nachhaltig gestalten”, Universität Hohenheim (2018), Stuttgart, Germany, February 28, 2018 
Rösch, C.
Nahrungsmittel aus Algen gegen die Überfischung der Meere.
2017. Wissensbuffet “All you can eat and learn” (2017), Karlsruhe, Germany, May 31, 2017 
Rösch, C.
Visionen der Ernährung aus Algen.
2017. Wissenschaftsfestival EFFEKTE 2017, Karlsruhe, 28.Juni 2017 
Roßmann, M.; Rösch, C.
Scenarios for the application of microalgae as food.
2017. Meeting of the Research Area Microalgae, University of Hohenheim, April 27, 2017 
Roßmann, M.; Rösch, C.
Guiding images, visions and narrative scenarios of an algae-based nutrition.
2017. 2nd International Bioeconomy Congress, Stuttgart-Hohenheim, September 12-13, 2017 
Schrögel, P.; Rösch, C.
Das Wissensbuffet: All you can eat and learn!.
2017. Ausstellung “Zentrum Mensch & Technik” in der Reihe “KIT im Rathaus” (2017), Karlsruhe, Germany, July 12, 2017 
Mok, S. T.; Rösch, C.
Life cycle assessment of microalgae as an alternative source of protein for the food sector.
2017. 2nd International Bioeconomy Congress, Stuttgart-Hohenheim, September 12-13, 2017 
Rösch, C.; Scholz, L.
Risk perception of biomass production with genome engineered microalgae.
2017. 2nd International Bioeconomy Congress, Stuttgart-Hohenheim, September 12-13, 2017 
Rösch, C.; Eußner, M.
Cost assessment of the application of microalgae as protein source.
2016. 4th Meeting of the MWK Research Area Microalgae, Stuttgart, July 7, 2016 
Rösch, C.
Scenarios and cost assessment for the production of algal protein.
2016. 2nd Status Seminar und Interim Evaluation of the Bioeconomy Research Programme Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart, October 13, 2016 


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

Tel.: +49 721 608-22704