Microalgae grow in extreme marin and freshwater environments and an increasing range of microalgae species are nowadays produced in a variety of systems for biomass being used in different commercial purposes including feed for aquaculture in hatcheries. Production techniques include raceways, open pond systems, closed photobioreactors and fermentor-type reactors.
Different microalgae strains are described as an important source of nutrients and bioactives and they are used in aquaculture as feed or enrichment supplements. However, they also show a wide variety of commercial applications: food supplements and nutraceuticals, biofuels production, cosmetics, biomedical and pharmaceuticals. Microalgae also contain natural pigments, including carotenoids, antioxidants, prebiotics and polyunsaturated fatty acids which are used as a natural food colouring or dietary supplements.
- Production plants of microalgae biomass in the EU are located in 13 of the Member States.
- According to the latest available data (JRC algae database), there are 126 algae-producing companies in the EU (AT, BE, CZ, DK, EE, FR, DE, HU, IE, IT, NL, PT, ES, SE, UK) running a total of 144 production plants, and 15 producing companies outside the EU (Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Norway) running one plant each. From these, 43% correspond to microalgae producers.
- According to FAO statistics, world microalgae production numbers are not well determined because production facilities are set up at very different scales, however, demand is high and values are yearly increasing.
Microalgae in NewtechAqua:
- NewTechAqua will develop a breeding programme for microalgae, including strain selection and setup of the base population of the breeding programme, definition of the optimal breeding goal, recording methods for the breeding goal traits by molecular and flow cytometry techniques, testing and design optimal selection strategies. We will focus on the whole production chain up-until the labscale mass production of the selected and bred strains. Focus will be on the production of a phenotypically and genetically stable product.