Microalgae: how to recover CO2 from industrial sites into biomaterials and biofuels

SARA, a refinery company, was looking at the valorisation of waste heat and CO2 emitted by its French Guiana oil terminals through the production of biofuel from a local strain of microalgae. Launched in 2017, the project aims to verify the potential of an endemic strain for the production of biodiesel, and to demonstrate the sustainability of a production at industrial scale on their refinery plant. Philippe Guy, the CEO of SARA, chose to put his trust in the specialists at the GEPEA laboratory and at Capacités by requesting their ongoing support for this project. In an interview, he expresses his opinion concerning those elements which he most appreciated during his collaboration with our teams.

In a nutshell

Key words

microalgaeindustrial ecologyindustrial waste treatmentStrain screeningsbioprocessesEOSS

“I was impressed by their comprehensive approach, combining research with an economic survey”, remarks Philippe Guy, the CEO of SARA.

“We are always keen to collaborate with universities, preferably local ones, for all of our research and development projects. As regards to this project, I immediately noticed that the University of Nantes was at the cutting edge of microalgae.

What I like about working with academics is how their point of view differs from that of industrials. This is what provides us with a more open-minded attitude towards a project, by approaching it from different angles. This is very important.

One thing that I found particularly surprising regarding Capacités’s experts, and one which is specific to the University of Nantes, is that they approached the project from both a technical and an economical perspective. That really impressed me. I was very pleased to discover a group of academics that had grasped the formula for a successful industrial project in terms of balancing research and return on investment. Their research was completely thorough and entirely worthwhile. This is what allowed us to continue the partnership and to develop it further, because we knew which choices needed to be made in order to secure an acceptable future ROI.

As with the management part of the project, I was very pleasantly surprised by the professional and multidisciplinary standards of the AlgoSolis R&D platform. I was further impressed during my visit of their laboratory and facilities. Based on past experience, they have the means to transpose our techniques from a laboratory to a pilot scale”.

SARA operates a refinery in Martinique, as well as oil terminals in Guadeloupe and French Guiana. It creates 600 direct and indirect jobs in these three French departments. Each year, they process nearly 800,000 tonnes of crude oil and distribute over one million tonnes of finished goods.

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