The 4-year SPLASH project will develop a new biobased industrial platform using microalgae as a renewable raw material for the sustainable production and recovery of hydrocarbons and (exo)polysaccharides from the species Botryococcus braunii and further conversion to renewable polymers. The project comprises 20 partners of which 40% SME and several large corporates plus universities and research institutes.
Two bioproduction platforms will be explored: (1) green alga Botryococcus braunii on its own and (2) the
green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to which the unique hydrocarbon and polysaccharides producing genes from Botryococcus will be transferred. SPLASH will deliver knowledge, tools and technologies needed for the establishment of a new industry sector: Industrial Biotechnology with algae and/or algal genes for
the manufacture of polyesters and polyolefins. The building blocks for these polymers will be derived from the sugars (polyesters) and hydrocarbons (polyolefins) exuded by the algae: adipic acid from galactose,
2,5-furandicarboxylic acid from glucose, rhamnose and fucose, 1,4-pentanediol from rhamnose and fucose, ethylene from ‘green naphtha’, propylene from ‘green naphtha’.
The conversion of ethylene and propylene to polyolefins is common technology, and will not be included in the project. The sugar-derived building blocks will be converted to new condensation polymers, including
poly(ethylene 2,5-furandioate) (PEF). End-use applications include food packaging materials and fibres for yarns, ropes and nets. The project encompasses (1) development of Botryococcus as an industrial production platform, (2) Systems biology analysis, (3) Development of procedures for production, in situ extraction and isolation, (4) product development.