French oil and gas company TotalEnergies has partnered up with waste and energy management company Veolia to begin a four-year research project into accelerating the development of microalgae cultivation using carbon dioxide (CO2).

With the long-term goal of producing biofuel, the project will involve a test platform being set up to compare different systems for growing microalgae and identifying the most efficient ones.

Microalgae grow by utilising sunlight and CO2 from the atmosphere or from industrial processes. After having grown a certain amount, the microalgae mature and are able to be harvested as a next-generation biofuel with a low carbon footprint.

Speaking about the project, Marie-Noëlle Semeria, Chief Technology Officer, TotalEnergies, said, “We are pleased to join forces with Veolia at our La Mede site to accelerate the assessment of microalgae cultivation systems using CO2, in the aim of producing next-generation biofuels.”

“Biofuels will enable TotalEnergies’ clients to reduce their carbon footprint, and thus contribute to the ambition of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 together with the society.”

The partners will contribute to the project with respect to their own knowledge and expertise. Veolia will focus on the management of the microalgae’s aquatic environment, as well as the development of algal biomass as an effective solution for CO2 capture.

TotalEnergies plan to work on the cultivation and refining of biomass to produce advanced biofuels, as well as focusing on CO2 capture and utilisation technologies.

Philippe Seberac, Technical and Scientific Director, Veolia, said about the partnership, “This unique partnership enables TotalEnergies and Veolia to accelerate the production cycle of a promising alternative energy that is necessary to protect the planet.”

“With this project, Veolia can contribute its technical expertise in optimising and securing biological treatments to a more global context that will have a positive impact on the ecological transformation.”

Seberac also said that the partnership is an excellent example of the ecological innovation capacities that Veolia wants to offer its customers in response to climate change.