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Dunaliella cultivated in demo plant raceway at Monzon, Spain
Photo: Monzón Biotech

The CO2 micro algae biorefinery

D-Factory sought to demonstrate the requirements for establishing a sustainable, CO2 algae biorefinery, based on the cultivation and processing of the alga Dunaliella salina. By fractionating the algal biomass into carotenoid isomers, glycerol, and carbohydrate-rich defatted powder, the project aimed to produce multiple bio-based products.

Aim and goal

The D-Factory aims to set a world benchmark for a sustainable biorefinery based on biomass from the halophilic microalgae Dunaliella.


Dunaliella is currently cultivated commercially for its high β-carotene content. The resulting product is a powder consisting of spray-dried Dunaliella cells and therefore a mixture which largely consists not only of carotenoids but also proteins, carbohydrates, fats and minerals. While the bio-refinery concept to be implemented within this project will go beyond the production of these crude products, it will also result in a number of extracts and extract-rich fractions with different specifications in terms of both compounds and purity. Thus, the challenge of the formulators assessing and evaluating the best possible uses of these extracts, will be not only to test and benchmark the properties of the actual individual components present in Dunaliella but also those of different extract-rich fractions produced as a result of economically viable separation processes.


Formulation know-how for specific high-value added products applications as well as a good understanding of current possibilities, challenges and limitations of the most important Dunaliella compounds and their properties was the basis for a successful outcome.


After processing biomass using supercritical CO2 and solvents for 9-cis b-carotene, the natural colorants produced as a by-product are well-suited for food markets that are growing to meet demand from the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) demographic and other food sectors, and extracts have been formulated in a variety of ways for use in different beverage-type applications. The defatted powder after processing also shows great promise in tests as a feed additive and also as a protein-rich bulking agent in fish sausages, and the individual starch, polar lipids and protein fractions have been processed as food additives, emulsifiers, and in gluten-free protein-enriched bread.

D-Factory brochures and posters

D-Factory overview.pdf (pdf, 1.89 MB)


Project name




RISE role in project

Workpackade leader for "Produkt formulation". Chemical analysis and extraction of proteins and peptides, as well as societal assessment was also performed.

Project start


4 years

Total budget

10 083 863 (Euro)


The consortium covered the whole value chain: Bioprospecting micro algae strains, algae production, harvest, extraction, analysis, formulation, dissemination, financial business case, environmental and societal assesment, process integration and design.


Financing from EU according to contract no. 613.870

Project website


Supports the UN sustainability goals

14. Life below water
Karin Persson

Contact person

Karin Persson

Teknisk Doktor

+46 10 516 60 72

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