EID Parry achieves “water positive” microalgae cultivation

The parent company of Valensa has implemented environmentally friendly microalgae process for cultivating Spirulina and Chlorella at scale

EID Parry, the parent company of Valensa International, has the first known microalgae cultivation site in the world to demonstrate it can achieve a “Water Positive” footprint, by actually putting more water into the ground than taken out while cultivating its Spirulina and Chlorella microalgae at scale.

Umasudhan CP, Valensa International’s CEO, said: “Our goal for our microalgae business is to do more than just talk about sustainability and a commitment to water conservation and the environment.”

“Water positive” implies being “net positive” for water. Net positive is a phrase that seems to go hand in hand with the plant-based trend. Both are aimed at reducing environmental impact. However, net positive takes it further, only reducing what is taken but actually giving back.

The concept is in its infancy but is gaining momentum, with the only problem being there is very little in the way of tangible commercial rewards. For Parry, there would seem to be none, until you consider its factory location. The arid, remote location in India where production is based may benefit from more efficient use of water, and in the long-term not squander its groundwater supply.

Despite being located in the dry area of India, Parry’s team created a system that maximises water sustainability in several ways to push the water-use scale into the positive, while maintaining the strictest standards for organic production.

This water management solution uses many different avenues to achieve this water positive status:

  • rainfall collection
  • careful tracking and monitoring of water drawn from underground aquifers
  • reducing loss during post-cultivation processing
  • re-using filtered and purified water
  • sludge dewatering
  • water meter technology innovation
  • lagoon and sewage water treatment systems

“Parry worked with equipment and technology experts around the world to be able to deliver this milestone,” says Dr Margaret Dohnalek, Chief Scientific Officer of Valensa International. “Already, the Parry team has been able to improve water filtrate quality, which will achieve a savings of 20% water usage per day, and that is an achievement in just that one part of the operation.”

Dohnalek continued: “The fundamentals of the initiative are less process loss, improved productivity and better quality filtered and purified water. And, as the Parry operation expands capacity, water usage will be optimised so that capacity can double but water usage will only grow by 50%.”

Add to that, the rainwater capture system is directly integrated into the production flow to allow for a net-positive water balance from what is drawn from the earth.

EID Parry is also in talks with Indian Oil Corporation regarding compressed biogas, a renewable energy source. Umasudhan said the company is committed to balancing the commercial interests of the company with societal ones, in-line with these recent activities.