Nannochloropsis gaditana microalgae. (Photo: Provasoli-Guillard National Center for Marine Algae)
Omega 3, 6 and 9 extracted from microalgae
Friday, May 24, 2013, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
A team of researchers from various scientific institutions in the country managed to get omega 3, 6 and 9 oil from two species of microalgae for use in the fields of cosmetics and food.
This consortium was joined by scientists from Iberdrola Engineering and Construction, of Algae Biotech, of Instituto de la Grasa of the National Investigation Council, Science and Research (CSIC) and of Ainia Technology Centre.
The researchers are studying the technical and economic viability of the new extraction technology and its industrial use.
For more than three years the consortium has been working on this applied research project, called Extrasuper, which has a budget of EUR 976,000.
Early results show that the new technology based on supercritical fluids and ultrasounds makes it possible to extract healthy fatty acids from these oils.
This extraction is more cost competitive and safer than conventional methods, indicated the leaders of the initiative.
The team ensures that this is a breakthrough, "since it involves solving one of the main obstacles to industrial production and marketing of the products derived from microalgae."
"Oil extraction from microalgae dry biomass is one of the most intensive phases in terms of cost and the least developed at industrial scale," they added.
The results obtained so far have shown the significant influence of the type of microalgae on obtaining the fractions that are rich in healthy fatty acids, reported Innovación.
The team used the Nannocloropsis gaditana microalgal species and the species Scenedesmus sp.
The Nannocloropsis gaditana biomass has presented a fatty acid profile that is especially rich in omega 3 and more specifically, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are associated with brain and eye development, and to the prevention of cardiovascular or brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Meanwhile, in the fatty acid profile of the species Scenedesmus sp the omega 9 content was highlighted. The rich fatty acids in omega 9 are attributed positive effects on the human metabolism and are considered a healthier alternative to replace partially hydrogenated oils in food processing.
Extrasuper has funding from Innpacto subprogramme, from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and from Feder Funds.
By Analia Murias