Microalgae producer Allmicroalgae Natural Products S.A. (Lisbon, Portugal) says it is moving to the next stage in its efforts to scale up production of an EPA-rich omega-3 oil derived from the algae species Nannochloropsis oceanica. According to the company, it is now working with “strategic partners” in the dietary supplements industry to test production.
“Allmicroalgae is looking into the Nannochloropsis potential and characteristics for EPA extraction purposes, among other high-value fatty acids” for dietary supplements, the company’s business development manager, Sofia Hoffman de Mendonça, tells Nutritional Outlook. “This microalgae is already being produced on a large scale, and after the trials, the next step would consist of large-scale extraction and commercialization of the extract.”
If successful, the company says the new extract could serve as a more cost-effective, vegetarian-friendly omega-3 source. “In terms of the omega-3 or even EPA sources, this species, Nannochloropsis oceanica, is being compared to the currently used fish oil, which is actually becoming scarcer in terms of availability,” de Mendonça says. “It is also expected that with larger production scale and with extraction optimization, the costs of a microalgae-based oil extract will reduce in comparison to the growing prices of fish meal and fish oils.”
Tests the company is currently running include trials to determine which technologies can get the most oil out of the Nannochloropsis oceanica biomass. The company says the algae are particularly rich in the omega-3 fatty acid EPA and contain smaller concentrations of palmitoleic acid, palmitic acid, arachidonic acid, and alpha-linolenic acid. These microalgae are not, however, a significant source of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.
Currently, the company is supplying Nannochloropsis oceanica in powder or paste form but says it will not offer an oil product until it is sure that production will be "optimized" and sustainable. The company says it is also looking at the “legal aspects regarding the usage of this type of product and species for both food and supplement purposes.”
The Nannochloropsis oceanica are currently being grown autotrophically using a closed system (photobioreactors) and sunlight in Leiria, Portugal. Allmicroalgae also specializes in the production of extracts from other types of algae, primarily chlorella (Chlorella vulgaris).