Algae Natural Food and Cargill to Grow Eco-Designed Microalgae


08 Dec 2016 --- Algae Natural Food and Cargill are launching the first stage of their project to grow organic microalgae in Strasbourg’s port area. This industrial symbiosis project, based on the principles of the circular economy, is one of its kind. Algae Natural Food will transform the Cargill Malt processing water and CO2 into a source of energy and nutrients for the cultivation of its organic microalgae.

To grow, microalgae need four essential elements: energy (light and heat), nutrients (minerals, etc.), water and CO2. As part of the malt production process, the Cargill site in Strasbourg generates heat, water loaded with nutrients and “natural” CO2 resulting from the respiration of the barley. There is therefore a perfect industrial symbiosis between the malting activity and microalgae production.

As part of the partnership between Cargill and Algae Natural Food, a pilot plant has just been installed on the malt house site. Cargill will also provide inputs (heat, nutrients, CO2) for microalgae cultivation and technical support that will allow Algae Natural Food to take advantage of its industry experience of over 25 years. As such, this partnership represents an environmental benefit but also an economic boon for Algae Natural Food, since it will enable it to grow faster and develop new applications.

Gilles Lazar, director of Cargill Malt in Strasbourg, explains: "This initiative fits in perfectly with Cargill’s policy of supplying products and services from sustainable practices. It was therefore important for us to support Algae Natural Food's ambition to only develop products according to the principles of the green economy. In addition, this initiative will also have a positive impact on our environmental footprint, as it will allow us in the short term, to reuse 10% of our waste water, recycle the heat from our activity and reduce our CO2 emissions by 5%". 

Besides the environmental impact, the territory as a whole stands to benefit from the social and societal repercussions of this project. Algae Natural Food has created 10 jobs in Alsace since the beginning of the year and plans to double its workforce in the short term.

This project was created as part of the industrial and territorial ecology initiative developed in the port area of Strasbourg. The first meeting facilitated in April 2015 by Idea Alsace and the Fiber-Energivie cluster, allowed to identify the potential for the recovery of Cargill Malt’s processing water and CO2 by Algae Natural Food.

A project that meets societal expectations both in the field of the environment and health

Organic microalgae cultivation, and in particular spirulina, is booming world-wide, not least in France. Proclaimed by the World Health Organization as "the best food for humanity in the 21st century", spirulina is an extremely high protein microalgae (1st digestible source in the world according to the WHO), a very good source of iron (20 times more than wheat germ), beta-carotene (30 times more than carrots), vitamins (4 times more vitamin B12 than raw liver and perfectly digestible), among its other benefits. A natural and unprocessed dietary supplement, spirulina can be consumed in the form of powder, flakes, paste or tablets.

In France, where there are few production sites, spirulina is primarily imported. The originality of the project developed by Natural Food Algae lies in the cultivation method based on the circular economy that will allow a productivity of about 50 to 80 grams of spirulina per day, as against 10 to 40 grams for the conventional technique of cultivation in open ponds. This technique will be validated at the end of the pilot phase, which is expected to continue until early 2017. Algae Natural Food aims to produce 60 to 100 tons of spirulina per year at the site in various forms: powder, tablets, extruded beads or flakes.

Granted the ECOCERT organic certification, production will be earmarked for organic food stores and for the manufacture of quality ingredients.

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