Processing Brine with Spirulina at AlgaeArt
June 24, 2012
lgaeArt is a startup firm in Israel dedicated to the culture of Spirulina. Its novelty lies in combining Spirulina production with the treatment and management of brines from inland desalination.
Desalination of brackish wells produces a salty concentrate that requires treatment before disposal due to the high nitrate, as well as salt, content. Removal of nitrates from salty water is expensive and complicated, and the evaporation of brines is also very expensive. Algae culture is an efficient way to remove nutrients from salty waters transforming the nutrients into valuable biomass, and evaporation of the brines is a natural by-product of outdoor raceway ponds.
AlgaeArt has developed new technology for the construction of low-cost raceway ponds that complies with the most stringent requirements for soil & aquifer protection: double liners with inter-liner drainage, leakage monitoring and security valves. The raceways can be easily covered by low-cost greenhouses to adapt the culture to local climate conditions.
AlgaeArt has also developed a low-cost technology for CO2 feeding. The integration of these and other technologies allows for the optimization of Spirulina production with brine treatment & disposal.
The entrepreneurs behind AlgaeArt are Yankale Peretz, a consultant on fish aquaculture, and Marcelo Juanicó, a consultant on environmental protection. “Our approach,” says Peretz, “is not industrial, but agricultural. We developed a technology that can be operated by any farmer to produce Spirulina as a high-value feed supplement for different types of livestock including fish & shrimp. The economics are based on double gains by both Spirulina production and brine treatment with disposal.”
AlgaeArt’s new lab, with small outdoor ponds, is located at the Meir Shfeyah Agricultural School in Northern Israel, where it maintains four different Spirulina strains. AlgaeArt also has a pilot operation with 800 m2 raceway ponds at Zur Moshe in Central Israel. The “pilot” is in fact an outdoor experimental site, half covered with a greenhouse, where multiple experiments are run on materials and structures for pond construction and maintenance, hydraulic optimization, energy, temperature, chemistry, light, strains adaptation to different conditions, filtering devices, dryers, etc.
AlgaeArt does not seek to produce Spirulina by itself but to act as an R&D firm that transfers technology to Spirulina farms via farm design, construction and long-term coaching on operation.