Could microalgae transform our food and cosmetics industries?
At a European funded research project in Northern Spain, scientists think that microalgae could start a revolution in the food and cosmetic sectors. Euronews’ Julián López Gómez visited the research centre where the microalgae are being cultivated.
Four particular microalgae species are being examined at the research centre in the city of Gijón, Northern Spain. They are able to produce Omega-3, a fatty acid used as a dietary complement. The antioxidant also is used in the cosmetic industry.
But before anything, the microalgae need to be taken good care of. David Suárez a biologist at Neoalgae described that process to Euronews.
«Microalgae are mini plants. So to grow, they need a constant source of light, either natural or artificial. Temperature is, also, very important for them. We use a greenhouse to create stable temperature conditions for them. Ideally between 15ºC and 20ºC. And the third crucial parameter is the agitation. Microalgae need to be in constant movement, so light reaches the whole organism, this is what makes the metabolic process more efficient».
Scientists contributing to this European research project use a complex method to extract both the Omega-3 oils and antioxidants. They say no chemical solvents are used. Carbon Dioxide is used to break through the membranes protecting the compounds inside the tiny algae. Neoalgae food scientist Víctor Casado Bañares explained the extraction process.