THE NETHERLANDS, Wageningen. Extracting omega-3 from novel algae sources is the mission of a European Union-funded project with multiple partners including the famed nutrition research arm at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
The PUFAchain project focuses on the value chain of microalgae. This is an area of the foodchain that has been attracting more and more interest in recent years due to nutrient stores and sustainability wins.
The main targeted application is the use of high purified omega-3 fatty acids Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) as building blocks in modern oleo chemistry to gain high value products for nutrition and pharmaceutical applications, the project outline states. It adds that these stages include biology, cultivation technology and downstream technology to establish a concrete exemplary value chain.
EPA and DHA are backed for brain, eye, foetus and cardiovascular benefits under the EU' s tough nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR).
150 strains have been preselected and 5–10 strains will be selected analysed in detail and prepared for upscaling.
Industry companies and research institutions are involved aside from Wageningen that will engage at various points along the whole supply chain. The other partners are:
• Georg-August-University Göttingen (Germany)
• A4F: Algae For Future Algafuel (Portugal)
• Mahle (Germany)
• Natex Prozesstechnologie (Austria)
• Cremer Oleo Division (Germany)
• Fraunhofer IZI (Germany)
• Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (Germany)
• EurA Consult (Germany)
The biggest alge-sourced omega-3 supplier is DSM which gained supremacy in the market when it paid about €800 mill. for Maryland, US-based specialist Martek Biosciences in 2011.
Others in the algae extraction business include French supplier Roquette, Allma in Portugal and Aurora Algae in California for the likes of spirulina and chlorella.