Research and development in the Biotechnology laboratory


The Biotechnology laboratory conducts research into the use of microalgae for the production of high-quality products and fine chemicals. Microalgae are eukaryotic unicellular algae with a size of only a few micrometers and are the most important primary biomass producers on earth. They occur on land and in freshwater, but also in salt water and brackish water, and can achieve enormous growth on nitrate-polluted wastewater. More than 100,000 species are known, of which, however, only about 15 species have been exploited for economic purposes so far. This offers enormous potential for further research.

Microalgae are able to produce biomass with the help of sunlight and carbon dioxide, which can come from industrial waste gases. This biomass usually serves as protein-rich animal feed or can be used to produce biogas or electricity. In addition, microalgae are also suitable for the production of biodiesel, monomers for the production of plastics, high-grade materials, and fine chemicals; for example, cosmetics, food supplements, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and food dyes such as astaxanthin are produced with the aid of microalgae. Microalgae have the decisive advantage over the production of high-value substances or alternative energy from plants due to the fact that no drinking water or valuable arable land is used for cultivation. In addition, microalgae can produce five times more biomass per area than conventional energy crops. Intensive research is therefore under way in the use of microalgae as an alternative source of high-value materials, fine chemicals, and energy.

Principal research areas

  • Searching to identify suitable strains of microalgae for various applications

  • Optimizing the biomass production of microalgae

  • Removing compounds such as nitrogen compounds from wastewater by means of microalgae

  • The production of high value substances from microalgae


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