Producing Azolla biomass for a large scale production of proteins and raw materials for food and non-food purposes

Large scale aquatic farming of the fresh-water fern Azolla offers a sustainable alternative for the production of proteins for the food and feed industry and for raw materials input into the chemical industry. Moreover, it offers great business opportunities, both for farmers and industry.

The climate change issue

The worldwide increasing demand for food, feed, energy and industrial products threatens natural ecosystems and global climate. Policy makers, industry and the scientific community are all challenged to seek solutions to mitigate anthropogenic carbon emissions, to increase biomass production worldwide and reduce the environmental effects of industrial production at the same time.

The project solution

AdAzoFast proposes a means to mitigate industrial pollution by connecting major waste streams from industry, including CO₂ and heat emissions, with aquatic-agricultural farming using the fresh water fern Azolla. Azolla requires far less nitrogen fertilization than conventional crops. Besides, the required aquatic agrosystems can be built on marginal land, not in use for agriculture, whilst simultaneously mitigating pollution. Productivity of Azolla not only doubles that of conventional crops, it also contains many commercially interesting compounds, such as proteins, lipids and polyphenols at high concentrations. A new, innovative method in bio-refinery is being adapted to separate these products from the biomass, in a cascade, as demonstrated in the documentary ‘PROJECT AZOLLA: From floating fern to renewable resource’. As a follow up to AzoFast, pilots for aquatic Azolla farming and for an Azolla extraction protein factory will be developed.

The role of Climate-KIC

“The Climate-KIC network offers opportunities for industry, academics and governmental organisations to work together on solutions to future climate-related problems. Climate-KIC stimulated us to collaborate and exchange our ideas with several types of industry, resulting in new and promising business opportunities.” Wageningen University