Würth Elektronik CTO presents cooperation in microalgae production at DLD

23rd January 2024
Kristian McCann

At the Digital Life Design (DLD) conference in Munich, an international hub for innovation and discussion, Würth Elektronik unveiled its latest collaboration with Agile Solutions. 

This partnership has resulted in the development of a highly efficient LED lighting system, specifically designed to enhance microalgae production, in conjunction with the system partner.

Spirulina, a microalgae species, boasts a protein content up to seven times higher than tofu, marking it as a highly nutritious superfood. It is also a valuable raw material in the food and pharmaceutical sectors. To foster efficient phototrophic algae cultivation in Germany, Würth Elektronik's collaboration is focused on creating optimal growth conditions. This initiative is a testament to the company's commitment to nurturing new ideas and start-ups, a cornerstone of its successful global strategy.

The role of LED lighting in boosting yields is paramount. Alexander Gerfer, Chief Technology Officer at Würth Elektronik eiSos, alongside Martin Havers, the founder of Agile Solutions, shed light on this innovative approach. Algae cultivation in Germany is conducted indoors under strictly controlled conditions. Plant-optimised lighting is essential for maximising yields. Agile Solutions, in cooperation with Würth Elektronik, has crafted a bespoke LED curtain featuring 700 mid-power LEDs, which bathes the algae cultures in ideal light conditions.

Alexander Gerfer elaborates, "LED lighting technology, and plant-optimised lighting in particular, are areas we are well-versed in. Our Connected Vertical Farm prototype has already showcased the remarkable growth and health of plants under perfect LED lighting conditions, and the principles are quite similar underwater. Agile Solutions, with our support, was able to expedite the development process, quickly introducing an advanced lighting system with integrated self-diagnosis and optimised load distribution to the market."

The market for microalgae products is anticipated to experience robust growth, averaging 10.9%, particularly in Europe. Germany is at the forefront of this trend, boasting 16 microalgae-producing firms, making it a leader in the European market.

The DLD conference brought together esteemed experts to debate key issues, challenges, and opportunities currently reshaping markets, media, culture, and society, amid the transformative impact of the Internet and new digital business models. However, topics such as lifestyle, design, music, and art, which are undergoing significant changes, were also focal points of discussion at DLD. The conference's theme this year was "Dare to know," reflecting the transformative power of artificial intelligence, a field expected to grow exponentially, though its future trajectory remains uncertain.

Alexander Gerfer adds, "This uncertainty extends to every innovative concept. That's why we are dedicated to aiding start-ups in transforming their ideas into commercially viable products, even if success is not immediate. Today, circuit designs can be rapidly developed with AI assistance. It's crucial, however, that these AI-designed components are available in large quantities and maintain consistent quality. This is where our expertise becomes invaluable, even in the era of AI."

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