Algae as a powerful source for vegetarian food

Algae are a tasteful and healthy addition to vegetarian and vegan products because they offer high nutritional values. Duplaco in Hengelo is a producer of algae. In their reactor, fresh algae are cultivated for the food industry in a few days. These algae are used as raw materials for making veggie burgers and other foods like pizza crusts, pasta or even cake. Growing algae this way annually saves a pond of water as large as forty football pitches.

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In short

  • Vegetarian and vegan food is becoming increasingly popular.
  • Duplaco responds to this trend by enriching vegan and vegetarian food with home-grown algae.
Usage of algae

Algae are usually found in surface water, for example as duckweed. It is the collective name for several unrelated groups of generally relatively simple organisms that use solar energy to produce carbohydrates through photosynthesis. Algae can be both single unicellular and multicellular and can take on relatively complicated forms. They do not belong to the plant species. The larger and multicellular algae that grow in the sea or near the coast are called seaweed.

High nutritional value

The Chlorella Sorokiniana microalgae grown by Duplaco from Hengelo are low in sugar and packed with plant proteins (more than 45 per cent), vitamins (40 different types), minerals, essential amino acids, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3 or Omega-6) and dietary fibres. As a result, they fit perfectly into a healthy lifestyle for both humans and animals, also due to the high digestibility and high nutritional values. 

 

Above all, these microalgae contain no allergens, heavy metals or contaminants. The microalgae have a green colour because of their own, natural dyes. Duplaco supplies between 8,000 and 10,000 litres of fresh microalgae to the food industry every month. The microalgae from Twente are available as a functional ingredient for vegetarian or vegan foods, as well as a dietary supplement in a tablet form factor. Because the algae already contain sufficient water, the production processes of producers of vegetarian food can also be designed in a more sustainable and simple manner, because no additional water is necessary.

Small footprint

Algae convert sugars into proteins, resulting in the advantage that the "bad" natural sugars form the breeding ground for the useful, vegetable proteins. This supports a healthy lifestyle. Production in the laboratory happens in a fully sterile environment, resulting in constant, high quality. The microalgae are free from bacteria, heavy metals, dioxins PAHs. Duplaco realises high productivity at a low footprint because many algae are produced on a small surface and at low energy costs. In terms of composition, they provide a consistent and reliable food product. The company has the FSSC 22000 certificate, a worldwide standard for food safety.

Sterile process

Duplaco produces algae in five steps. First, the unicellular Chlorella microalgae are cleaned of any bacteria, guaranteeing an optimal start to the growing process. The bacteria-free microalgae then go to the growing room where in two weeks algae are fed with nutrients such as nitrogen, carbon, phosphate, sugars and trace elements. Subsequently, 15 litres of microalgae are grown into 650 litres in the fermentor by means of division of one alga into multiple. This process is fully automatic and takes approximately 24 hours. Afterwards, the microalgae move into a cooling tank, where an extra variant can be made by centrifugation. The first variant of fresh microalgae contains 10 per cent dry matter. The second fresh version contains 20 per cent dry matter. Finally, a final step can be added to the production process in which the fresh microalgae can be converted into powder form. By adding hot air in the spray dryer, 10.000 litres of fresh algae can be converted into 800 to 1.000 kilograms of algae powder monthly. Then, a spray dryer can turn 10,000 liters of fresh algae into 800 to 1,000 kilograms of algae powder each month by adding hot air. The powder is packaged in bags of 10 kilograms, or tablet form.

Research and development

Various techniques are applied in the R&D department of Duplaco to optimize the quality of the microalgae. Methods such as metabolic engineering, strain selection and bio-accumulation are used for this purpose.

 

Duplaco is an active member of the Protein Cluster

Date: 10 July 2018
Source of tekst: Duplaco
Author: Twente.com

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