Aurora Algae secures 1,500 acres for expansion as demo facility opens

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Eicosapentaenoic acid, Algae, Federal government of the united states

California’s Aurora Algae has secured 1,500 acres of land in Western Australia for expansion, as its demonstration facility in Karratha hosts a grand opening event.

The 1,500 acres of land, situation 10 to 15 miles from the demonstration facility, will allow the company to begin the process of constructing a full-scale commercial facility equipped to manufacture thousands of tons of algae-based biomass annually, said Scott McDonald, CFO for Aurora Algae.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA, McDonald added the commercial facility should be operational “sometime in 2012”​.

“With our demonstration facility fully operational and the technology risk of our process removed, we are excited to be shipping product samples to partners and planning the construction of our proposed 1,500 acre Karratha commercial site,”​ said Greg Bafalis, the company’s CEO.

“This achievement validates our selection of Northwestern Australia as the first location for our photosynthetic growth platform and would not have been possible with a US-based production facility where we believe the climatic conditions are not economically viable to produce large-scale, cost competitive algae products.

“The combination of our proprietary algae strains and the optimal worldwide location for algae farming allow us to produce premium, algae-based products that are attractive and cost-competitive across a number of product segments,”​ said Bafalis.

Product range

The company announced the launch of its A2 product portfolio last month, a range that included protein-rich powder and a ‘game changing’ sustainable EPA-rich omega-3 oil.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA last month​, Leslie van der Meulen, vice president of business development for Aurora Algae, explained that the company can produce a vegetarian food source and renewable biofuel products, year-round with a single crop.

The A2 portfolio is comprised of four categories, including omega-3 and the A2 EPA Pure product, as well as protein products for food and beverages, algae-derived biofuel, and a family of protein-rich algal grains for feed, mostly aquaculture.

“The allergen-free, vegetarian sourced A2 EPA Pure will be a game changer,” ​said van der Meulen, who is also Secretary for omega-3 trade association GOED. “The unique properties and infinitely scalable nature of our algae platform will allow our customers to safely invest in the abundant application potential of EPA, knowing their supply is guaranteed.”

Cultivation

All of the products are derived from algae, a factor that “positively addresses the food versus fuel argument”​, said the company. On cultivation, the biomass is split into two streams – a defatted stream, and an oil stream. The oil stream is further fragmented into fuel and the EPA-rich oil.

Aurora would not comment on the specifics of the algal strain used, but noted it is a pale green cultivar.

The company has also announced the receipt of almost AUS$1 million in funding, in addition to US$750,000 R&D tax credit from the Australian government.

“Aurora Algae is grateful for the tremendous government support it has received at every level – from the Shire of Roebourne, to the Western Australia State Government to the Federal Government – in assisting with getting our facility built on time and under budget,”​ said Matthew Caspari, Aurora Algae’s co-founder and managing director, Aurora Algae Pty Ltd. “Along the way, we’ve been able to collaborate with local industry and bring green collar jobs to the region, resulting in an economic and environmental ‘win-win’ for Western Australia.”

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