UK: LED lighting for new sustainable algae production facility

AlgaeCytes, based in Kent, UK, is installing Philips GreenPower LED interlighting in its new algae farm, which uses a patented technology to meet the growing demand for Omega-3 supplements and oils without depleting the world’s fish stocks. AlgaeCytes chose Philips LED lighting because it is ideally suited for creating a mild, controlled, and energy-efficient production environment for algae, where it can ramp up production to meet demand. The company chose Philips Lighting as its partner because of its lighting expertise for horticulture, research into algae with Wageningen University and its focus on building long-term relationships with its business partners.

Producing fish oil without the fish
Bio-based products are one of the many growth markets in the horticulture sector, and Omega oils from non-marine sources are attracting a lot of attention. Dependence on traditional marine-animal sources of Omega-3 oil puts pressure on global fish stocks, which is unsustainable. “AlgaeCytes has developed a process that captures the properties of algae-high-value-ingredients for the health and personal care markets. The company has built its first production module using a photobioreactor system and freshwater algal strains to produce algae-derived EPA, an Omega-3 oil which has known health benefits. High-quality protein and carbohydrates are also produced as a by-product of the process,” said Naz Bashir, CEO AlgaeCytes. “The opening of this new facility on October 26, 2017, marks an exciting stage for AlgaeCytes that we believe will unlock the potential of algae for nutritional and health care markets.”

Supporting the bio-based market
“We are excited to be participating in this novel production facility for bio-based ingredients,” said Udo van Slooten, Business Leader Horticulture at Philips Lighting. “It is just one more example of how growers and researchers are opening new opportunities with LED lighting. I think this is just the start and we can expect LED lighting to be a driving force for many other innovations in bio-based markets.”

LED lighting is ideal for algae production
Producing algae at commercial scale requires an enormous amount of light, which makes it challenging to prevent warm temperatures. Until now, growers have used sunlight or high pressure sodium (HPS) grow lights to cultivate algae. However, sunlight is seasonal and grow lights generate too much heat. Using LED lights enables AlgaeCytes to maintain optimal conditions for the growth of algae. It is also very energy efficient compared to HPS. At the AlgaeCytes facility, Philips Lighting’s Horti LED partner, Cambridge HOK, is installing a unique LED system. Multiple lines of Philips GreenPower LED interlighting are placed on the sides of large glass tubes filled with nutrient-rich fresh water and algal strains. The LED interlighting produces high levels of light without increasing the temperature around the tubes.

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