On a cold and misty day in October 2020 – just between the 1st and 2nd Corona wave – Hilda Weges and I took our bicycles and went to the Algae Parc from Wageningen University and Research (WUR). Because of the mist it was not so easy to find it. Finally, we arrived together with our host Professor René Wijffels, also on his bike.
After the traditional cup of coffee, Professor Wijffels explained why the University had built these Algae facilities. The Parc is a place for both education and research. A group of Master students follow lectures and learn about the production of algae in the different production systems, inside as well as outside. The same systems are also used for research. A small reactor is called “Algaemist”. Is it true that – like the old alchemists – the researchers are looking for gold as well?
We learn that algae have indeed very valuable compounds, really a big variety. However, the main task is to increase the yields and to lower production prices. Than algae production can compete with traditional chemical products.
Outside we don’t see much activity. Wintertime is not good for growing algae because of less light and lower temperature. Inside this problem doesn’t exist. This is also the reason why WUR has started an algae parc, on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean, where the average temperature is around 30 degrees, the year around.
Wijffels tells us that the WUR is very cooperative with its learning materials. It is free to use. (See also algaeparc.com : https://biobasedeconomy.nl/groene-grondstoffenreeks/)
It is also not a problem to make pictures and video’s inside and outside. That is what we do.
He offers to be a “sounding board” during the development of the learning scenarios. Meanwhile he has read the modules and given us his reactions as an expert.
We are happy with all his friendly words and gestures and we hope that he can join our final meeting in Brussels. We promise him to keep him informed about the progress of BioComp.
Satisfied, we return to our office.