Spirulina from CO2 emissions: Algae growing begins at AB Agri site in UK

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/NNehring
© GettyImages/NNehring

Related tags AB Agri Pond Technologies Algae carbon emissions

A UK project aimed at transforming carbon emissions into algae feed ingredients, being run by Canada’s Pond Technologies and AB Agri division, Livalta, has achieved another milestone.

In an update released today, Pond outlined how an algae lab and a number of its in-house designed algae bioreactors have been successfully installed on site at AB Agri's British Sugar plant in Wissington, Norfolk, UK. “We are excited to report that algae growth has begun, and we anticipate that larger bioreactors will go online in 2023,” ​said Grant Smith, CEO of Pond.

The Canadian company built a system of smaller 60L bioreactors and controls at its headquarters in Markham, Ontario, and delivered, installed, and commissioned the system at the UK site, having worked with the AB Agri business to specify the equipment needed to set up the lab, an important step to support the 1,500L and 10,000L pilot bioreactors in Wissington in 2023.

The initial algae grown in this lab will be used in the bioreactor scale up process, said the entities.

"Installing the lab and initial seed train is the first stage in any algal project because doing so permits larger commercial scale photobioreactors,” ​added Smith.

Located in Markham, Ontario, Pond focuses on absorbing GHG emissions, transforming these into food, feed, and nutraceutical ingredients.

Its platform is based on AI, proprietary LED-lights, and patented CO2 management. The use of concentrated CO2 from industrial waste streams, it claims, enables it to boost productivity of microalgae well beyond the capacity of outdoor algae growers and allows emitters to abate and ultimately recycle CO2. Its system bolts onto existing industrial facilities.

Commenting on the advances, Valerie Schuster, MD of Livalta, a business aiming to develop new, responsible proteins for feed and food using the latest science and technology, said: "This is our first step towards piloting Pond's technology to grow algae using CO2 emissions as feedstock - or, as we would put it, take a problem - CO2 emissions - out of the air and convert it into high value protein. There is still some way to go, but we have made a start with a great team effort between Livalta, AB Agri, British Sugar and Pond Technologies."

Growing algae at scale 

Algae are gaining increasing attention as potentially game-changing animal feed ingredients. Until now, the technology to produce algae at the scale, quality and cost required to be an affordable ingredient for animal feed, has remained elusive. Livalta and Pond said their partnership is set to change that.

The goal of the initial pilot plant is to grow algae strains for use in animal feed trials. The plan, thereafter, is to construct an industrial-scale plant at the same site for production of commercial algae-derived feed ingredients, which will be sold by AB Agri. The first product will be spirulina, combining 60% protein with essential vitamins and minerals. Spirulina, said the partners, is known for its nutritional and functional value both in food and feed.

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