Astaxanthin harvesting gets a boost

Astaxanthin harvesting gets a boost

Garden State bioEnterprises adopts OriginOil technology for high-value astaxanthin harvesting.  

OriginOil Inc. (OTC/BB: OOIL), the developer of a breakthrough water extraction process for the oil & gas and algae industries, and Garden State bioEnterprises, LLC (GS bioE), an emerging technology provider to the wholesale commercial algae production industry, announced that GS bioE has adopted OriginOil’s harvesting technology as a key component of its proprietary production system for the high-value product astaxanthin.

In a recent trial, GS bioE concentrated its algae with an OriginOil Algae Appliance™ and then successfully stressed the cells into astaxanthin-bearing product.

”Being able to concentrate the algae that makes astaxanthin is a potential game-changer for our industry,” said Andrew Greene, president of GS bioE.

Greene continued, “We are very pleased with the successful results of our recent trial of OriginOil’s Algae Appliance. By deploying the OriginOil Algae Appliance, we were able to harvest the algae to a 5 percent solids concentration while keeping the algae cells viable. We were then able to stress them successfully into an astaxanthin-bearing product.

He concluded, “We are satisfied with the performance of the Algae Appliance. Together with its ability to reduce bacteria, we expect its proven harvesting capability to give us a competitive edge in the production of natural astaxanthin as we plan to make it a key component of our state-of-the-art astaxanthin production system.”

GS bioE very recently concluded its testing of the OriginOil Model 4 Algae Appliance™. The companies are now in discussion regarding GS bioE’s 2013 commercialization plans and the potential for expanded use of OriginOil technology.

Priced at about $4,000 dollars a kilogram, astaxanthin is produced by stressing a green algae into producing a red-tinted shell that contains the high-value product. The challenge is to grow this algae despite “crashes” caused by bacteria and other factors, and then to concentrate it without losing its ability to produce the astaxanthin-bearing shell.

Natural astaxanthin, an extremely potent antioxidant, ranks among the most valuable compounds that can be extracted from algae. The research firm Oilgae forecasts astaxanthin sales of nearly $2 billion by 2020, with uses in nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and food coloring. Astaxanthin is what gives wild salmon their pink color.

Astaxanthin is commercially produced from the microalga Hematococcus pluvialis (HP). Once HP reaches a desired maturity and concentration in its green phase, it is stressed with ultraviolet light which makes it develop a red cyst containing between 1.5 percent and 4 percent astaxanthin (Oilgae). But the growth and harvesting processes are extremely challenging.

“HP is the ‘Diva’ of the algal strains, easily inhibited by bacteria, water hardness and the shear forces present in a pump or centrifuge,” said Jose Sanchez, general manager of OriginOil’s Algae Division. “These factors usually induce ‘crashes’ which force production restarts. Growth and harvesting difficulties have kept many players out of this market.”

Sanchez continued, “By slashing bacterial counts, we can help astaxanthin grow better with fewer crashes, and make the water reusable. And by successfully concentrating Hematococcus pluvialis as we have shown, we think we could increase the astaxanthin concentration from 4 percent or less to as much as 6%. This is extremely promising, and we look forward to helping Garden State bioEnterprises enable the rapid expansion of astaxanthin production worldwide. ”

The two companies were introduced by Barry Cohen, president of the National Algae Association (NAA). Mr. Cohen was familiar with both the project requirements as well as the capabilities of both companies.

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