Everything planned on an industrial scale
At present, Algae for Healthy World is focused on the search for improvements in order to increase the growth rate of the microalgae. The idea is to develop this on an industrial scale, with the aim of obtaining a sustainable price in an ever more competitive market. And it is here that at Endesa we play a fundamental role with new “raceway” photobioreactors with a capacity 18 timed greater than those used to date.
“Currently, the estimated production of biomass is 500 litres per year per raceway, but it is hoped that the capacity may be even greater.” Miguel Gutiérrez knows what he is talking about. He is Operations Lead at Endesa’s microalgae pilot facility. Each day he watches the plants grow, to be harvested, dried and freeze-dried at a later date. The result: a high added-value product.
At Endesa, we know how important this challenge is. If we manage to develop industrial cultivation technology we will be able to place Spain at the forefront of a new market. “These products contain a quantity of proteins that, once hydrolysed, are easily absorbed by plants. This would be of help, for example, in their immunisation against diseases or pests,” says Miguel. And this is our goal at Endesa: to make feasible the scaling-up to an industrial level of technology applied to microalgae, and making it sustainable from all points of view, whether economic, social or environmental.
The objective of all those involved is to popularise the inclusion of microalgae in our everyday diet and that their viable production should become a reality. The production of biocompounds for food use from these micro-organisms and their sustainable cultivation opens the doors to a technology that might put an end to the scarcity of food in the future. Might we be able to think of mitigating future food requirements in the most disadvantaged areas? Could this be the definitive step toward the creation of the superfoods of the future? The project began with questions like these. For the end of the story, wait just two years.
Additional Note: The “Algae for Healthy World” (A4HW) project has a budget of one million Euros for a term of two years, and has been financed by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities under the Cooperation Challenges programme (specifically, the “Food Safety and Quality Challenge: Productive and Sustainable Farming, Natural Resources, Marine and Maritime Research”) and co-financed by the European Union Structural funds (European Regional Development Fund, FEDER) with the aim of promoting Technological Development, Innovation and Quality Research.