Qualitas is based in Jerusalem, Israel, but has its production facility in West Texas, where sunlight is abundant and a brackish water supply is available. Qualitas chose a phototrophic process mainly because it matched its organism, which yields high levels of EPA in an oil that has a unique phospholipid-glycolipid structure. Other entrants into the algal omega-3s space have opined that heterotrophic (fermentation) production is the only proven way to go, and that open ponds are too subject to contamination events that can interrupt the flow of ingredients.
David Hart, vice president of marketing for Qualitas, counters that heterotrophic technology is very capital intensive and requires pricy inputs in terms of energy and feedstocks. Open ponds have their drawbacks, but they can be dealt with, he told NutraIngredients-USA at the Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA.
“We grow the algae in open ponds, so sunlight is the source of energy. It is an agricultural technology, so you are at the mercy of the elements. But there are ways to mitigate that by holding inventories of different intermediates, whether it is the harvested algae or the extracted oil,” he said.
Hart said that Qualitas is well positioned to participate in the global growth of the omega-3s market with an ingredient that has sustainability advantages over marine sources.
“The future is definitely in algae. It is much more sustainable,” he said.