[ad#The Buzz Sponsor Ad]

Water treatment startup Algal Scientific now mining beta glucan

June 17, 2013
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Algal Scientific chief science officer Geoff Horst shows off his beta glucan-rich algae at the company's lab in the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center. Photo: Ben Freed | AnnArbor.com

Algal Scientific chief science officer Geoff Horst shows off his beta glucan-rich algae at the company’s lab in the Michigan Life Science and Innovation Center. Photo: Ben Freed | AnnArbor.com

Ben Freed reports in the Ann Arbor Business Review that Algal Scientific – a startup which emerged from Michigan State University in 2008 to use algae for reducing the costs of water treatment – has now developed a parallel process to use the algal biomass to make beta-1,3 glucan, a compound of high value in animal and human nutrition.

Further testing on the species of algae they were using to clean up the water revealed it was worth more as a dietary supplement than a simple fertilizer. The algae were high in the sugar compound known as beta glucan, which acts as an immune system booster. “About a year and a half ago we realized that this beta glucan that was in the algae we were already using was very valuable,” said Geoff Horst, a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University at the time, and now the company’s chief science officer. “It is worth $20,000 to $30,000 per ton and at that price point we figured, ‘Wow, we can make a lot of money with this.’ ”

Right now, the most popular source for beta glucan is certain types of yeast that develop the chain of sugar molecules in their cell walls. The species of algae used by Algal Scientific is more than 50 percent beta glucan, while yeast has just 5 to 15 percent beta glucan content and requires an expensive process to extract the compound from the cell walls. “It’s a unique species of algae,” says Horst. “You probably wouldn’t encounter it in a local pond or lake, but it’s not genetically-modified. It’s a naturally occurring species, just not a very common one.”

As trials of their beta glucan product move forward, Horst and his co-founders Bobby Levine, Jeff Lebrun, and John Rice are looking to find a new location to expand their production. “There’s not much more science we have to do to be profitable; now we’re really in the ‘ramp-up, scale-up’ mode,” Horst said.

The company has grown to include nine full-time equivalent employees and has brought in approximately $1.5 million in outside funding, which includes $500,000 for winning the Accelerate Michigan innovation competition in 2012.

Read More

More Buzz…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Allan Koay writes in thestar.com about a Universiti Malaya research project paving the way for the commercial production of paper pulp and bioethanol from seaweed. The Al...
Nutritionaloutlook.com this month gives a well-rounded survey of how algae’s uses in food, beverage, and supplements keep expanding. Here is an excerpt: Thanks to the 201...
None of us would be alive if sperm cells didn’t know how to swim, or if the cilia in our lungs couldn’t prevent fluid buildup. But we know very little about the dynamics ...
Algae “red tide” events often create dazzling nighttime light shows of blue-green bioluminescence resulting from the force generated by breaking waves. While many mysteri...
Rich McEachran writes in the Guardian that, in the process of surfacing a road, layers of asphalt – which is composed mostly of bitumen (a byproduct of crude oil distilla...
Using microalgae to capture CO2 is a complex process, especially in flue gas environments, reports an editorial by IEA Clean Coal Centre in worldcoal.com. There are many ...
Tel Aviv, Israel-based UniVerve Ltd. has begun scaling-up its technological process for algae cultivation. The oil, which can be extracted with off-the-shelf wet extracti...
Nevele, Belgium-based TomAlgae is developing freeze-dried microalgae for feed in shrimp hatcheries. The company has created its own microalgal “cultivar” and manufactures...
In a radical pivot, algal fuel pioneer Solazyme Inc. will be changing its name to TerraVia™ to reflect a new focus on food, nutrition and specialty ingredients. A pioneer...
The last post positioned algae solutions for bioremediation of poisoned water and soil that can reduce the risk of arsenic exposure and the onset of autism spectrum disor...
A $300,000 greenhouse will be constructed, and the Maine Algal Research and Innovation Accelerator (MARIA) will be formed, on the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences' c...
Northwestern University researchers have developed a quantitative tool that might help bring back coral from the brink of extinction. The novel algorithm could help asses...