In the laboratory, Algae Biosciences Incorporated uses green, golden, and red algae. As for the company’s manufacturing practices? Green. Decidedly green.
AlgaeBio, an Arizona biotechnology firm with production facilities in the high desert plains near Holbrook, is poised to take a leadership position in the global microalgae industry. Whether it’s food, biofuels, pollution solutions, or medicines, the algae industry’s competitive differentiators are sustainability and environmental symbiosis — and AlgaeBio is walking the walk, in addition to talking the talk.
“We use a totally ‘green’ production methodology at AlgaeBio,” says chairman of the board Robert J. Thompson. “Algae products are an incredibly valuable resource for mankind, and through every step of our production process, we’re able to keep our footprint environmentally positive.”
Topping AlgaeBio’s agenda, in the near future, is the production of ultra-pure omega-3 fatty acid oils for international customers in the rapidly expanding nutraceutical and food additive markets. Ground has been broken on AlgaeBio’s $5-million, first-phase expansion to its production facilities, and large-scale commercial production is expected by 2012.
The most obvious “green” aspect of AlgaeBio’s production is its use of the sun’s energy for algae growth. AlgaeBio’s fifth-generation bioreactors maximize the amount of sunlight available to algae cells swimming in pristine brine water, optimizing the growth process in a continuous, closed-loop system, whereas many competitors use a batch-process fermentation system for algae that never see the light of day.
Under a U.S. patent, AlgaeBio also has exclusive aquaculture use of pristine brine water, drawn from an aquifer directly beneath its plant location.
AlgaeBio maximizes every drop of this precious resource, using the brine water for multiple biomass production cycles before piping it to an outdoor pond to evaporate. The remaining salt is sold for use on roads and highways.
AlgaeBio’s extraction process, too, is a study in green. AlgaeBio uses supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) to extract its algae oil.
“Our CO2 supplier can quantify what percentage of their product is supplied via the carbon-capture process,” says AlgaeBio co-founder and CEO Andrew Ayers. “In the future, we will be requesting a breakdown of where our CO2 is coming from.”
And speaking of AlgaeBio’s extraction process, the company does not use hexane, a hydrocarbon-based solvent, as some competitors do. Hence, there is no chance of possible residue — as AlgaeBio has opted for a clean-and-green pathway to deliver the optimal omega-3 product to consumers.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sets a hexane level that they have determined is safe for human consumption, but if you don’t have to consume it at all, you don’t have to worry about safety levels,” remarks Ayers.
Finally, a clean and healthy byproduct of AlgaeBio’s omega-3 algae oil production is oxygen itself. For every gram of algae produced in the company’s bioreactors, approximately two grams of oxygen are released into the atmosphere.
AlgaeBio is quickly being recognized for its green manufacturing processes — in addition to its unabashedly green, health-boosting omega-3 products.
Thanks to AlgaeBio’s market-leading production capabilities, downstream opportunities include: pharmaceuticals, such as designer proteins, vaccines, enzymes, antibodies, and research agents; sustainable biofuels; macroalgae for human food; organic pigments that can replace synthetic dyes in food and cosmetics; organic compounds called carotenoids, which as potent antioxidants reduce cell damage and fight disease; and liquid feed for marine life.
ABOUT ALGAE BIOSCIENCES INCORPORATED: AlgaeBio is an Arizona biotechnology company that researches, develops, and manufactures ultra-pure products from micro and macro algae such as nutraceuticals, food additives, and pharmaceuticals. With access to near-perfect algae growing conditions, exclusive aquaculture access to a pristine brine water supply, and advanced proprietary technology, AlgaeBio produces superior human and animal consumable products, as well as offering advanced algae-based products and technologies for distribution into the agribusiness, biofuel, and aquaculture markets. AlgaeBio owns and operates large-scale production facilities near Holbrook, Ariz., and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Algae Biosciences Corporation.