Technological advancements extending algae applications beyond usual sectors

[USA] Algae, which is a diverse group of photosynthetic organisms that may or may not be closely related, is used for various purposes. For instance, the dietary supplements and functional foods sector uses omega-3 fatty acid produced from algae to manufacture nutritional supplements and healthcare products, while nearly half of the global biofuel share comes from algal biomass.

Algae-based pharmaceutical products improve health and hygiene among consumers, whereas strict government regulations to minimize carbon emission is forcing investments on algae cultivation processes.

Algae-based biofuels replacing traditional jet fuel

The usefulness of algae is not only limited to the industries of food, biofuel, and pharmaceutical. With technological advancements in the recent times, several other sectors are making use of algae for various purposes.

For example, in marine sector, algae-based biofuels are moderately used in inland, short sea, and maritime travel ranges, whereas algae-based biofuels are now commercially and successfully used in the aviation sector, with a 50:50 blend of traditional jet fuel and biofuel.

For the transportation sector, which accounts for significant chunk of fossil fuel-based carbon-dioxide emission, emission-free algal biofuels are quickly taking over. In bioplastics sector, emission-free biodegradable bioplastics are manufactured from algal biomass. A U.S. based company, Algix, LLC, produces bioplastics from algal biomass.

Continuous R&D investments shaping up the future

Valensa International (Eustis, Florida) recently revealed its plans to commercially sell algae-based ingredients in the immune-health market in the U.S., importing it from Algal Scientific Corporation (Plymouth, Michigan). PureAlgal branded ingredients from Algal Scientifics, which include whole dried microalgae and purified beta-1, 3-glucan, are to be sold as differentiated algae ingredients, besides being a part of Valensa’s Immunum line of immune-health formulations.

Another U.S. biotech firm Solazyme, also known as TerraVia, has had a number of microalgae-based products approved by the European Union, which will prove to be a boon form the market in the near future. Lipid-rich whole algae are now available in golden and cream, which have the potential to replace eggs and other dairy fats in the industries of bakery, food and beverages, besides being useful for various other applications.


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