With free energy from sunlight and the greenhouse gas CO2, algae produce substances that are used as food supplements or animal feed. Lgem believes it also can replace fungi and yeast in the future. In this article, we’ll explain how, why and when algae conquer the world.
The different substances by algae
We expect to make various substances with the bioreactor. Most attention is now focused on beta-carotene, a pigment that acts as a UV blocker and is used as an antioxidant in foods. Also on the wish list are omega-3 fatty acids, which occur naturally in fish oil and whose consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and the substance astaxanthin, a pigment that colors salmon pink. The algae themselves can also be used as food for larvae of, for example, sea bass.
With the sun as a free energy source, a bioreactor is potentially very efficient. The most common photosynthesis pigment on Earth, chlorophyll, can convert a maximum of twenty percent of the light collected into biomass. However, a plant as a whole only has a photosynthetic efficiency of one percent. With algae, this could theoretically go much closer to twenty percent. However, traditional algae bioreactors are nowhere near achieving this high yield.
A traditional algae bioreactor is therefore no more than an open pond. A photobioreactor is a closed system. Simply put, it is a vessel with water in which the algae swims. The cleverness of the construction lies in the way in which the entire volume is provided with sufficient sunlight. Then it is a matter of supplying CO2, properly controlling the temperature and mixing the algae at the right speed. After everything has been properly coordinated, the bioreactor is a fact.
Efficient air-driven bioreactors belong to the future. Ultimately, Lgem hopes to take metabolite production by algae out of niche markets and make it a competitor to production by yeast or fungi. Lgem believes that algae production can eventually become an alternative.
In addition, the photobioreactor is one of the first steps towards a solar-driven society. Using the sun as a sustainable energy source has an obvious advantage over the use of fossil fuels. With algae bioreactors that run on sunlight and CO2, the knife cuts both ways.