Algae at Scale: Qualitas Health Triples Algae Farm Acreage for Omega-3 Now, Protein Soon
by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest) Think beyond nanotechnology. It’s Nanno Technology, as Qualitas’ nannochloropsis strain gets deployed in New Mexico at the old Green Crude Farm (now Green Stream Farms), as well as in Texas.
In Texas, Qualitas Health unveiled a long-term partnership with commercial crop producer Green Stream Farms to triple its algae production to 45,000 pea-equivalent acres, achieving critical mass to become a sustainable omega-3 alternative, worldwide, at commercial scale.
Fish have been the long-standing source for most essential oils like omega-3 fatty acids because they have obtained them from eating algae, the ultimate source of DHA and EPA. EPA is best known for its cardiovascular benefits, though it also has a positive impact on mood, skin and joint health.
For some time companies in the algae space have spoken of “cutting out the middlefish” and harvesting omega-3s directly from algae instead of bioaccumulated in fish oil. For some in that quest, the issue has been yield and cost, for all there has been an issue of scale.
CEO Miguel Calatayud told The Digest, “we are bringing a crop to areas where nothing was growing, using non-arable land, brackish water, the sun as our source of energy and 100% scalable.”
“Nanno makes a very nice protein,” Rebecca White told The Digest. “Not only 40% by mass, but with a well balanced amino acid profile, all the essential and the branch chain amino acids., It’s similar to the profile of beef. It’s a matter of extracting from the solids and cleaning it up.”
Sapphire’s Green Crude Farm and the Green Stream Farms backstory
If the picture of the Green Stream Farms facility is not familiar to you, it’s the old Sapphire Energy facility in Columbus, New Mexico, which Green Stream Farms acquired at an undisclosed price from Sapphire’s ownership group.
“I brought it out of constriction and into production,” White noted, from her Sapphire days, “so I know it is very versatile, and it has been put through the paces with strains and it has proven production capacity. And it’s great to have Green Stream bring their expertise in commercial crops.”
Green Stream Farms is a commercial crop producer headquartered in Manhattan, KS, with a production facility in Columbus, NM that provides algae products including nutraceuticals and animal feed to their partners.
Building yield and getting to Omega-3s: the Qualitas backstory
“The original strain was chosen for EPA, and since that strain was picked, early on, we’ve learned how to manipulate the levels with our cultivation techniques. It’s comes down to how you operate the site, and the timing.
We asked about yields. “Our yields are in line with other data you’ve seen for this strain,” White noted. We also asked if yields crash in the winter? “In our case, we grow a winter strain,” said White, “and we struggle more in the summer when the temperatures soar.”
… left alone, algae just gets knocked over and out-competed by almost anything. Dust storms, two-celled predators, the mildest of viruses. What’s been employed? The same concepts of integrated pest management we see in the land world, only translated into the pond.
Early detection, learning the prey and the diseases and putting them at maximum disadvantage in the pond conditions — calcium levels, magnesium, for example — or getting the ideal levels of NPI (that’s nitrogen, phosphorus and iron, which are the important nutrients for algae in the same way that we have NPK for land crops).
“Building off the experience at Sapphire, you have to go proactive and give your strain the advantage, it’s not just about killing the invader. You have to identify the villain, find their seasonality and their preferred conditions — salinity, pH, flow rate, nutrient levels, temperature, and deny those to them. READ MORE and MORE (PR Newswire/Qualitas Health)