New Zealand scientists developing high-value algae technology

New Zealand’s biotech sector has received a boost with the launch of a highly sophisticated, multi-vessel photobioreactor, designed and built by scientists at Cawthron Institute.

The technology development was… initiated to enhance the production of valuable products and healthy food ingredients from algae.

“We developed this technology in response to our industry partner’s needs to rapidly optimize growth conditions and uses for algal product development. It will help advance their operations so they can remain at the forefront of international markets,” said Cawthron scientist Mike Packer.

“We are now focusing on using this new photobioreactor to develop high-value products for our clients and optimizing their processes.”

At Cawthron, scientists use PBRs to trial algal growth models, which can then be scaled up for commercial use by industry partners. “We specialize in PBR technology and have them in many different shapes and sizes, but none as capable as this,” Dr. Packer said.

“This new system speeds up our ability to gather information so we can understand how to make the algae grow better and how conditions affect behavior so it produces desirable molecules such as bioactives, antioxidants, cosmetic and key nutritional ingredients used by the nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, biotechnology and aquaculture sectors.”

One of Cawthron’s key clients is nutraceutical company Supreme Biotechnology Ltd., which grows and extracts the high-value algae compound astaxanthin on a commercial scale for the global market. The company can already see potential for the new technology. “We are excited about this development by Cawthron and we’re keen to utilize their expertise and equipment to optimize our algae growth on a commercial scale,” Supreme Biotechnologies Chief Executive Tony Dowd said. “Cawthron have been an essential partner in our journey so far, and will continue to be.”

A multidisciplinary team of scientists including mathematicians, engineers and biologists helped design, develop and refine the device over the past three years.


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