Portuguese microalgae producer, Allmicroalgae Natural Products, has recently started production of Chlorella vulgaris and other microalgae species via fermentation, which complements the company’s existing photobioreactor capacity
Allmicroalgae's fermentation volume is already at 5000 litres per batch, with the possibility to double this capacity. The growth of microalgae in heterotrophic fermentation (ie without light) is quicker and reaches higher cell concentration, enabling greater output volumes and therefore more cost-effective pricing.
This technology also enables greater batch-to-batch nutrient consistency. A fermented variant of Chlorella vulgaris is the first species Allmicroalgae is producing through this new technology, with several other strains in their pipeline. The company considers fermentation to also be crucial for producing omega-3 DHA/EPA.
Sofia Hoffmann de Mendonça, Business Development Manager at Allmicroalgae, said: “Our mission is to bring the best of microalgae to the world by using various cultivating methods and strains to meet the needs of different segments such as human food, dietary supplements, feed and cosmetics.”
The fermentation technology was developed and established through the project Fermalg, in conjunction with the Portuguese private non-profit research organisation Instituto de Biologia Experimental e Tecnológica (iBET). The project’s purpose was to enhance existing microalgae production in photobioreactors by producing quicker high-quality inoculum, while also starting production of fermented algae.
Sofia Hoffmann de Mendonça said: “Fermentation technology is one of the keys to our flexible production model as it allows greater production possibilities across a variety of microalgae species, to meet different product specification needs and even provide customised solutions. In saying that, fermented microalgae are not suitable for all applications — some of the most important commercialized species still require sunlight in the cultivation process, to reach maximum amounts of bioactive compounds.”
Greater nutrient consistency and more economical pricing enabled by fermentation is a big plus for the refined feeds industry. Fermented microalgae providing natural marine proteins as well as other nutrients offer new opportunities in the aqua feed industry as a partial substitute for fish meal. And in pet food, it provides a sustainable, innovative and natural source of nutraceutical compounds, which are highly sought after.
At the same time, the sun grown microalgae with phototrophic cultivation method provide some attractive carotenoid-rich value-added feed ingredients. Microalgae, Nannochloropsis sp. as one of the examples, can create more intensely coloured egg-yolks, efficiently and naturally.
The Portuguese company CAC is already conducting trials with Allmicroalgae’s products, of which the first results were quite promising. The target is to use microalgae as part of the feed designed for laying hens. This will provide various benefits, including the enrichment of the eggs with a natural, sustainable source of omega-3.