Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts founds start-up for microalgae


Lucerne – Researchers at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts are working on efficient bioreactors for cultivating microalgae. The microorganisms can permanently bind large quantities of CO2. The project is about to become a start-up and is supported by the Gebert Rüf Foundation.

When it comes to removing CO2 from the atmosphere, microalgae are more efficient than trees, explains the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts(HSLU) in a statement. Up to 70 percent of the mass of the microorganisms may be carbon, with each of these carbon atoms taken from a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere. Researchers at HSLU are working on bioreactors that can be used to grow microalgae quickly and energy-efficiently. The goal is to bring the technology to market. The HSLU spin-off Arrhenius AG is to be established for this purpose.

The undemanding microalgae need “only water, light, CO2 and nutrients, especially bound nitrogen,” to grow, project leader Mirko Kleingries is quoted as saying in the release. For the lowest possible energy consumption, the head of HSLU’s Competence Center Thermal Energy Systems and Process Engineering and his team grow the algae with natural daylight. After they have captured enough CO2, they can be dried and buried deep enough in the ground to avoid contact with oxygen.

The Gebert Rüf Foundation is supporting the project with its First Ventures program. Here, the founding members of Arrhenius AG receive a financial project contribution and a coaching program. “Negative emissions alone cannot solve our problems – first and foremost, we still need to use less energy and dramatically reduce CO2 emissions,” Kleingries says. “But microalgae can additionally make an important contribution to achieving our climate goals.” ce/hs