BeWhere Algae

Short description

BeWhere Algae is an optimisation model that can be applied to (1) analyse the energy consumption for transport and the transport distances for water and CO2 and (2) assess how resource allocation influences the size and optimal locations of algae cultivation.

The model integrates algae cultivation models developed at Wageningen University, which are applied to predict the algae productivity at a given location, with the quantitative logistic decision model BeWhere. BeWhere Algae has been applied to the Benelux, southern France and the Sahara (Algeria – Tunisia) and Texas. During the 2016 YSSP Sudhanya Banerjee has expanded BeWhere Algae to identify the trade-off between CO2 sequestration and CO2 use for algae based biodiesel production.

Objective function

The objective function of BeWhere Algae aims to maximise the difference between the energy contained in the produced algae biomass and the energy required for transport. Optimisation of BeWhere Algae results in the selection of the supply points used, the locations for algae cultivation and supply network with the largest energy yield (the difference in energy contained in the produced algae and energy consumed for resource transport).


Microalgae are a promising biomass for the biobased economy to produce food, feed, fuel, chemicals and materials. In the past years much attention has been given to the ability to produce lipids for biofuel. However, the wide product range makes algae biomass unique and enables a self-supporting biorefinery, where other feedstocks are unnecessary.

For commercial production algae are cultivated outdoors, using the freely available sunlight. Several reactor types and designs are available for algae production (see pictures). So far, commercial large-scale production of algae is still limited. As a result, the role of supply chain logistics on the choice for algae cultivation locations was not investigated before.

Algae production technoglogies

Four main reactor types at AlgaePARC Wageningen UR. From left to right; horizontal tubes, flat panels, raceway pond and vertically stacked horizontal tubes. With permission of Wageningen UR.
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Last edited: 31 January 2017


Sylvain Leduc

Research Scholar

Agriculture Forestry and Ecosystem Services Research Group

T +43(0) 2236 807 267


Ellen Slegers

Wageningen University

BeWhere Model

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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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