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Taiwan Cement to expand microalgae production

July 19, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Taiwan Cement Corp. has announced plans to expand its microalgae farm, which produces astaxanthin.

Taiwan Cement Corp. has announced plans to expand its microalgae farm, which produces astaxanthin.

kdropcapsuo Chia-erh reports for Taipei Times that Taiwan Cement Corp, the nation’s leading cement supplier, has announced plans to expand its microalgae farm, which produces astaxanthin. The expanded plant is expected to become operational in the first half of next year, Taiwan Cement chairman Leslie Koo told reporters at a media event with the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

The 70-year-old cement maker is to invest NT$200 million (US$6.25 million) to expand its existing microalgae center into a 20-hectare outdoor microalgae farm, with an estimated annual production value of about NT$400 million, the company said.

After the new farm begins operations next year, the company hopes to make astaxanthin products that meet universal standards, such as the Good Manufacturing Practice standard, Mr. Koo said. “We foresee Taiwan Cement being the nation’s main astaxanthin supplier. Local beauty product manufacturers will no longer need to import the material.”

In addition to the expanded microalgae farm producing astaxanthin, it will decrease carbon dioxide levels by 4,800 tons per year by using the ITRI and Taiwan Cement’s carbon capture technology, Mr. Koo said. The company began developing carbon capture techniques with the ITRI in 2011. The two parties discovered that captured carbon dioxide can be used to grow microalgae. In 2014, their technology won an R&D 100 Award.

In light of the business potential of growing astaxanthin, Taiwan Cement and the ITRI signed a contract to extend their technical cooperation, aiming to make growing microalgae a real business opportunity. The focus of the cooperation is to help Taiwan Cement expand its production of astaxanthin. By stepping into the value chain of the biotech industry, a circular economy could be established, turning waste into renewable resources, ITRI president Liu Jonq-min said.

“Taiwan Cement is seeking more partners, such as Tsinghua University, to enhance its innovative capabilities,” Mr. Koo said.

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