Basic data

About the project

The EU project BISIGODOS aimed to identify ways to use algae as a feedstock in order to produce valuable chemicals, amino acids and high added-value bio-resins that would normally be produced using petrochemicals. The algae biomass can be fed directly with CO2 from industrial emissions (cement, steel factory, thermal power plants, etc.) as a raw material that is cost-effective and renewable. The process is assisted by solar radiation, nutrients and sea water microalgae. The consortium brought together expertise and resources within the areas of: microalgae and photo-bioreactors production and optimization, manufacture of amino acids for food products, production of conductive polymer coatings, bio-resin development for water-based inks, bio-surfactants production and bio-PU adhesives manufacturing, and end-users in the food, flexible packaging, hair care, metal industry and paints products.

 

Pilot: the challenges

The challenges for this pilot were to:

  • Seek to find ways from the outset for projects in general and technology assessment practices in particular to be deliberately stakeholder-engaged
  • Broaden the range of technology assessments and build trust

 

Interview with Stuart Coles, Warwick Manufacturing Group

 

We have 2 videos. The first one focuses  on Life cycle  Assessment. The second one is about pros and cons with RRI.

… And it really is informing how we think about designing our projects for different calls, trying to incorporate some form of RRI into most of our grant proposals that we’re putting into the future. So I think what I’m learning is a greater appreciation of what RRI is, and how best to implement it in the future.
Stuart Coles,Assistant Professor,Warwick Manufacturing Group

 

 

Results/recommendations

The pilot  led to two two central lines of advice

  1.  Seek to find ways from the outset for projects in general and technology assessment practices in particular to be deliberately stakeholder-engaged.
    It is typical for those working under the rubric of RRI to propose greater stakeholder engagement. The Bisigodos project provides no exception. Greater efforts might be made (in ways that pay due attention to issues of commercial sensitivity) in the material requirements process to consult the following – amongst others — consumer groups,  other industry actors and  policy makers.There may be challenges in achieving such engagement regarding resources, expertise, framing effects and capture, and commercial sensitivities. However, it is clear from the recent broader developments in RRI that there are various avenues that will partially or fully meet such challenges.
  2. Broaden the range of technology assessments
    The Life Cycle Assessment and value assessments carried out on Bisigodos were: confidential, made at the very end of the project, carried out with the more standard attributive methodology and run separately for each of the products being produced.The assessments could be improved in each of these regards. Public assessments would facilitate the above-described stakeholder process. So-called ‘anticipatory’ assessments of technology at the start of a project may be speculative but can help its subsequent direction and can make explicit the reasoning of researchers to stakeholders. While Attributional Life Cycle Assessment is the standard, there is an increasingly sophisticated set of assessment methods that seeks to take into account economic or social value and indeed to draw out the values that are implicit in those carrying out the research. Finally, the Life Cycle and Value Assessments were carried out on the assumption that each product separately (surfactants, coatings, and so on) would be produced; it would be worthwhile also to see such assessments on the wider assumption that algal oils replaced petrochemical feedstocks in the economy more broadly.