Alltech acquires algae facility

Alltech, a global leader in natural animal nutrition, announced it has acquired a state-of-the-art algae fermentation facility in Winchester, Kentucky from Martek Bioscience Corp. Alltech, which purchased the facility and 23-acre site for about $14 million, expects to start an expansion phase on the facility within the next 18 months.

“For Alltech, algae fermentation presents our latest technological platform from which we expect incredible opportunities in the areas of food, feed and fuel to arise,” said founder and president of Alltech, Dr. Pearse Lyons. “We have worked in this area for several years and see it playing a major role in both human and animal health and nutrition as one of the world’s more renewable food and energy sources.”

Algae are some of the fastest growing plants in nature and have the ability to convert large amounts of carbon dioxide into oxygen.

“Alltech is actively developing processes that are derived from a variety of different algae types,” said Becky Timmons, Alltech’s director of applications and quality assurance.  “Algae are one of the most diverse organisms in the world and their potential for product development is tremendously exciting for us.  Alltech currently has the largest carbon dioxide sequestering algae pilot plant system in the state of Kentucky and this new acquisition will allow us to move our research yet further towards true implementation,” she continued.

The facility will allow for continued work with Alltech’s carbon dioxide sequestering algae strains, as well as strains that are grown with other carbon sources.  The algae will then be used for value-added feed products, algae derived bio-fuel, and the production of ethanol.

The laboratory and pilot plant fermentation facilities in the acquisition are of particular interest as they will allow for quick product and process development.  The automated control and monitoring systems on the fermenters will allow Alltech to make advances in new and current fermentation processes.  One of the main focuses of the facility will be the development of products derived from algae.

Autotrophic algae require CO2, water, nutrients and sunlight during biomass growth. Each 100 tons of algal biomass fixes about 183 tons of CO2.  Heterotrophic algae, which cannot use photosynthesis to generate its own food, can be grown in large closed tank systems present in the Winchester facility.

Algae biomass is mainly composed of lipids, proteins and starches. The composition is dependent on the strain as well as growth conditions and can vary greatly.  Fat content can range from 2% to as high as 84%. Protein content can range from 5%-70% and starch from 5%-50%.

Alltech’s core competence lies in researching, developing and marketing natural products that are scientifically proven to enhance animal health and performance.  The company is the largest producer of protected organic minerals in the world and primary in yeast, algae, and solid state fermentation systems. For further information, visit www.alltech.com.

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