23 Nov Commercial Production of Spirulina
During the last 20 years commercial production and utilization of Spirulina as a food product has expanded in many countries all over the world, mainly in America, Australia and Asia.
The biomass of Spirulina is produced in open raceway pond cultivation systems in controlled conditions, while certain companies produce this microalga by direct harvesting from natural environments.
Today, the commercial worldwide annual production of Spirulina is higher than 3000 t.
In Europe, the only large scale commercial production of Spirulina is that of the Greek Company ALGAE AC in Therma Nigrita-Serres.
This production system is based on a photosynthetic process using sunlight, CO2 and nutrition elements contained in a fresh water culture medium heated by geothermal waters.
The geothermal energy used in this way as well as setting up the cultivation ponds in a greenhouse contribute to increasing the daily yield by 20-30 per cent (spring and autumn), and the cultivation season is prolonged (from March until November).
The use of freely released geothermal CO2 reduces the production costs of Spirulina biomass by over 25 per cent (Picture).
Spirulina can be considered as a “Green Factory” for the ecological production of a variety of products.
(a) Food products of pure Spirulina in the form of tablets, powder or capsules or as ingredient in various food products such as pasta, cookies, snack bars and juice bars;
(b) as innovative pet supplement for fish, aquatic animals, birds, cats and dogs;
(c) as ingredient in personal cosmetic products like skin creams and shampoos;
(d) bioactive compounds with pharmacological properties (neutraceuticals); specific chemicals used as reagents in Biology and Medicine (enzymes, fluorescent probes).
The safety of Spirulina as a food product has been proved both by extensive food safety research including toxicological studies as well as by its consumption by different populations for centuries (**15).
Spirulina can be considered as a super-food of the future since cultivation of Spirulina in large man-made seawater-supplied open-ponds in arid areas seems today technologically simple.
These microalgal mass culture systems will take advantage from the recovery of geothermal or industrial released carbon dioxide for feeding the Spirulina culture in presence of inorganic salts and solar radiation.
This biotechnological procedure offers the possibility of the sustainable development of the production of useful food protein as well as a variety of micro-algal-derived high added value products. In addition, the protein rich biomass with potential health benefits can be used for combating world hunger and malnutrition by concomitant reduction of a principal greenhouse gas.
This approach will require joint efforts among government, academia and industry.
(**) Literature on the subject