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Research uncovers how to utilize photosynthetic microalgae

By Michelle Yeomans , 14-Jan-2013
Last updated on 03-May-2013 at 11:04 GMT

Researchers in Europe have developed a high-performance technology that mass produces microalgae, which now makes it possible to grow fragile species in controlled conditions - with potential applications for cosmetics.

A four year collaboration between Microphyt - a specialist in microalgae and The French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) an R&D innovation body, featured the companies looking at how the mass production and development of molecules have the potential to be synthesized by green microalgae.

While only a handful of species of microalgae are currently produced on an industrial scale, the technology being developed now, by reducing mechanical stress, extends the range of species that can be grown in photobioreactors,” explains a CEA spokesperson.

Microalgae biomass can be made into a wide range of biofuels, but it is microalgae cosmetics that could hold the greatest promise as the extract can promote cell restoration and cohesion, making it a perfect ingredient for the likes of skin care products.

Progress

Earlier in the month, Microphyt revealed it had successfully developed flows that didn't effect circulating cells and that the two 5,000-liter units that are currently available - which have been in operation since 2009 and 2010 - have produced over 400kg of dry biomass from several fragile species, some of which are already being used in dermo-cosmetics currently on the market.

From July to October of last year, Microphyt says it cultivated a strain of Chlamydomonas in larger quantities and under different metabolic conditions in order to be able to study their influence on the biochemical profile, which has been the subject of a great deal of research, with 7,000 scientific papers and 130 patents registered.

Without a mass production system suitable for this species, the researchers say it has not been possible to transfer certain laboratory results regarding commercial applications to industry.

Bolero program

This success changes everything and has enabled us to launch the BOLERO program, which aims to further improve the performance of our technology and increase our range of molecules,” says Microphyt chairman, Arnaud Muller-Feuga.

Furthermore, the researchers say that the Bolero program will identify the molecules with the most potential and will optimize their synthesis by selecting improved strains to increase production yields whilst also enhancing the technology by from the CEA focused on solar technology.

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