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An innovative Italian start-up offers a technology to optimize the production process of spirulina alga for food uses

Country of Origin: Italy
Reference Number: TOIT20190305002
Publication Date: 14 March 2019

Summary

An innovative start-up has developed and patented, in collaboration with a multinational, a new technology for optimizing the production process of spirulina for food uses. It is an eco friendly environmental production plant that allows the production of spirulina to be increased for ten times the productions with the same extension of land. The start-up looks for partners who intend to build new plants by using the technology under commercial agreements with technical assistance.

Description

This innovative start-up has been set up since 2019 as a result of a R&S project focused on the production process of spirulina alga for food use and carried out by an international group producer of sunflower oil and rapeseed oil in collaboration with specialized technicians who are now part of the start-up team. 

Spirulina alga is one of the most complete and balanced natural super food. Defined by the United Nations Organization as the best alternative food source of the future, spirulina, in fact, has a very high protein content, vitamins, minerals, 8 essential amino acids and beta-carotene. This nutrient is suitable for the the diets of specific categories such as vegans, athletes, celiacs etc... and it is important to fight world hunger. Spirulina also allows to reduce soil and emissions for the same quantity of protein produced and it doesn't use water at all. Furthermore, the consumption of spirulina guarantees the assimilation of important amounts of protein and it decreases the need to assimilate proteins from animal origin also. This implies the reduction of energy and water consumption necessary for the production of animal proteins.

This technology facilitates the production of spirulina algae. The production process has been optimized through the use of renewable energy sources, ie through anaerobic biomass digestion within the production process itself. Moreover, the implementation of the new technology makes production costs reduced and it is an eco friendly environment innovation in agriculture. The automatic energy consumption is a surplus. That technology and the production cycle increase 10 times the production at the same conditions of the previous methodology.

Currently, the traditional monthly production of spirulina in Europe is about 300 kg/month for every 1000 square meters of greenhouses. Instead, this innovative production process allows you to increase the production up to 3000 kg/month for every 1000 square meters. It reduces the production costs related to the energy required, the feeding costs of the algae and the costs deriving from the introduction of C02 into the greenhouses. In fact, the energy required is produced autonomously by the plant as well as nutrients and carbon dioxide.

In addition, the new process introduced anaerobic digestion of animal dung or organic waste fraction (food waste or agri-food waste) in the previous usable process and the anaerobic biodigestion is an efficient cogeneration of electricity and heat from the biogas.

The plant is composed of two greenhouses of 10 meters x 50 meters, for a total area of ​​1,000 square meters of greenhouses, located on a gross surface of about 1,500 square meters. In the greenhouses there are basins made with walls and bottom in waterproof plastic cloth. Each tank can hold 250,000 liters of water. The greenhouses are covered with a special anti-ultraviolet polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheet of a thickness of 200 microns. Each pair of greenhouses is equipped with water movement blades to guarantee the appropriate oxygenation.

During the night, the greenhouses receive light from a LED lighting system in order to continuously feed the photosynthesis process.

In each pair of greenhouses there are an automatic picking machine and a battery of wind extractors to eventually lower the internal temperature. The compost produced by anaerobic digestion and a mix of natural salts (phosphorus P2O5, nitrogen N and potassium K2O) are the natural elements for the spirulina.

The Italian company seeks industrial partner that are willing to develop new plants in its own country by implementing the innovative production process. The Italian company will transfer the technology and know-how necessary to build the system and to make it work under commercial agreement with technical assistance.

Advantages and Innovations

INNOVATIONS

- The production process allows the production of spirulina and increasing it 10 times reducing the production costs related to the energy required and the costs of nourishing algae.

- The innovative process used in the traditional production system turns the anaerobic digestion of animal dung or organic waste fraction (food waste or agri-food waste) and it produces anaerobic biodigestion combined with efficient cogeneration of electricity and heat from the biogas .

ADVANTAGES

- From anaerobic biodigestion it is possible to obtain an additional by-product, a biological fertilizer with the following characteristics (50, 50, 50; k - potassium in concentration 50; P - phosphorus in concentration 50; N - nitrogen in concentration 50). The fertilizers on the market have an identity 20, 20, 20.

- The enormous reduction of the production's costs allows to get into the market with low price products.

- Spirulina can be applied to many commercial sectors. New spirulina-based products can be developed in no food products , for example in the cosmetic sector.

- Positive environmental impact: it is an eco friendly environmental process.

- As a superfood the spirulina has different nutrient properties and it may contribute to reducing energy consumption.

- The consumption of spirulina involves the assimilation of large quantities of proteins, reducing the need of animal protein. This puts down the need for the production of animal proteins that means greater energy consumption.

Stage Of Development

Already on the market

Stage Of Development Comment

New applications of spirulina algae in other no food products and the company is working on it.

Requested partner

The innovative start-up is looking for international industrial partners that are willing to develop new production plant focused on the innovative production process. The Italian company will transfer the technology and know-how necessary to build the system and to make it work under commercial agreement with technical assistance. 

It is not necessary for the client to operate in a particular sector (agro-food, biotechnology, etc.) but it is sufficient to be an industrial partner with the capacity to develop the new production plant.

The start-up prefers a partner well integrated in a network of commercial partners where it is possible to place the spirulina alga for food uses.

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