“What we do” – Beta Glucan
We grow a unique species of algae in order to produce beta-1,3 glucan. Technically this is a polysaccharide, basically a long string of glucose (sugar) molecules with a very specific form and functionality.
We use totally sealed and sterile stainless tanks and virgin food grade inputs such as dextrose (corn sugar), nutrients, vitamins and minerals, in a process called fermentation. Unlike most algae that grow using sunlight (photosynthesis), our algae are heterotrophic, meaning they can grow in the dark, getting their energy from compounds like sugar. As we harvest the algae from the tank, we can simply dry it and produce a product that is used as an ingredient in animal feed, or we can further refine it for human food, nutraceutical, drug and other applications.
“Why we do it” – Beta Glucan
Beta glucan is a thoroughly researched compound with scientifically proven benefits. The problem is that it has been historically produced by extracting a very small portion from yeast cell walls in an expensive and difficult process that can cause variations in quality and effectiveness. Our process can produce a highly digestible and effective form of beta glucan at a fraction of the cost and with higher quality. This opens up applications that before weren’t economic. The most significant of these is in animal feed where supporting immune health without the overuse of antibiotics is a worldwide goal.
“What we do” – Water
Our Hypertrophic™ process for treating high strength water from food and beverage industries is similar to the production of beta glucan. We use our unique species of algae as well as other “heterotrophic” organisms to consume organic material measured as biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). While this process uses open tanks or ponds, and equipment common to other water treatment technologies that use bacteria, our process is superior when the levels of BOD are high and variable, and when the goal is to also remove nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Again, unlike algae that rely on photosynthesis, that would require sunlight and massive amounts of land, we can use deep, unlit tanks, and have processing equipment and land requirements similar to conventional technologies.
“Why we do it” – Water
Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients found in many types of process water being discharged from the food and beverage industries. These contribute to algal blooms in our waterways, which in turn create dead zones where oxygen levels fall below the level to support fish and other aquatic species. At the same time, the algae can be toxic and a hazard to health, not to mention that algal blooms can detract from property values and public recreation.
State and federal regulations are requiring that the discharge of nutrients must be reduced from prior standards. The problem is that traditional water treatment processes aren’t very effective on nutrients, requiring add on systems that are expensive to build and operate and are energy intensive. These regulations can have a huge impact on industry. Our target customers include companies that discharge their process water to a municipal authority where they have to pay surcharges ranging up to millions of dollars per year.
Our process is environmentally friendly, effective, and economic. We are able to reduce BOD and nutrients in a single step to below most “surcharge” limits. We use less energy in our process, have lower investment and operating costs, and produce a biomass that adds value when used as a fertilizer or a source of animal nutrition, rather than traditional sludge which may have landfill costs.
“How we do it” – Water
Similar to the production of algae for beta glucan, we use a community of heterotrophic organisms, including algae that will convert the BOD and nutrients in a process streams into more biomass. We use a patented process that controls the environment so that our target community thrives. Unlike traditional bacteria based systems, ours is designed to handle very high strength water (proven on BOD over 30,000 mg/l), can handle wide variations in loading, retains and recovers nutrients, yet uses similar aerated deep, open tanks and dewatering equipment.