Excited About the Potential for Algae: Fuels, Feed, Food...

Jan 10

Why is Pearse Lyons Excited About Algae? ...Biodiversity!

Algae are very diverse: structurally, functionally, and chemically. No one knows exactly how many species exist but there are undoubtedly hundreds of thousands. Structurally they range from giant kelp (which can grow to 65 meters long) to single-celled microalgae.

They are functionally diverse as well. Most species obtain energy from photosynthesis and carbon from CO2 (photoautotrophs). Some obtain energy through photosynthesis but acquire carbon from organic matter (photoheterotrophs). Others have only minimal photosynthetic ability and obtain most of their energy from organic matter.

Algae's diversity extends into their chemical composition. The proportion and types of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in algae cells is dependent not only on the species but the conditions under which they grow. Factors like temperature, light, pH, CO2 levels, salt and nutrients are all important factors that affect the chemical composition of an algae cell.

The diversity of algae means that they can be used to produce a wide range of products, including: animal feed, biodiesel, ethanol, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients. Dr. Lyons describes his vision for algae and Alltech?s newly acquired algae production and fermentation plant in Winchester, Kentucky.

Where do you think algae's biggest potential lies: food, feed, fuel, carbon capture, waste management?

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