23/06/2020 – News / Ingredients / Innovation / Nutraceuticals / Microalgae / Yemoja Ltd
Yemoja opens sustainable microalgae production plant
Israel-based marine ingredient start-up, Yemoja Ltd, has opened the doors of its new plant dedicated to the industrial-scale production of high-value microalgae – in turn, opening the door to a proliferation of innovation in the areas of functional foods and nutraceuticals, as the beneficial properties of this sustainable raw material continue to be dicovered.
Microalgae has, in recent years, attracted considerable interest worldwide for its extensive application potential in the renewable energy, biopharmaceutical, and nutraceutical industries. For the F&B industry, microalgae holds enormous potential as a renewable, sustainable, and economical source of bioactive medicinal products and innovative food ingredients.
It is in response to such promise that Yemoja has established its new microalgae cultivation facility – located within the historic mountains of the scenic Upper Galilee region of Israel. Bringing unique, state-of-the-art biotechnology standards to the microalgae industry, the new plant is today fully operational. Yemoja said it had worked hard to swiftly bring production up to speed to meet a considerable new volume of orders – emanating predominantly from the global nutraceutical and cosmeceutical sectors.
New gold standard for microalgae cultivation
Yemoja cultivates microalgae customised to fit functional food, nutraceutical or cosmetic applications. The company utilises a unique facility housing high-precision, fast-track photobioreactor technology, setting a new gold standard for microalgae production and sustainability. Indoor cultivation operates in a next-gen, closed, contaminant-free system that maintains absolute control of key parameters such as temperature, pH, light, and CO2 emissions with capabilities to produce a broad spectrum of pure algae – and in a very tightly controlled environment.
“We built a ‘green’ factory in which we can create and maintain the ultimate conditions for any known microalgae species, yet with zero dependence on external environment and weather,“ explained Erez Ashkenazi, COO and Co-Founder of Yemoja. “Our indoor system generates exceptional yields with proven reproducibility on a very small plot of land and using minimal resources.”
Unique, small-batch and sustainable production
Yemoja operates a small batch production line structured in a visually intriguing arrangement of vertical luminescent columns known as illis. Each ille is allocated a specific algae species, is completely closed off, and is isolated from other units to prevent any cross contamination. This facilitates the simultaneous and continuous production of a variety of algae-derived products that can meet the specific requests of customers, maintaining their individualised control irrespective of batch volume.
“Our unique site runs on recycled water and minimal energy. The exploitation of artificial light for photosynthesis limits the need for cooling,” said Mr Ashkenazi. “We meticulously designed the site to meet to the highest standards of operational efficiency in order to minimise environmental impact leaving only a tiny carbon footprint. Our specialty ingredients are cultivated in a chemical-free, all-natural process, with a full respect of our natural habitat.”
Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties
The startup set up its first pilot facility in 2017. Following a series of successful proof-of-concept trials in 2018 and a fruitful seed round, Yemoja decided last year to move on to the next phase of opening a first fully-fledged manufacturing plant. A few weeks ago, the plant began rolling out microalgae production on an industrial scale to meet the new influx of demand.
“Recently, we have received heightened interest in our external polysaccharide sulphate (EPS) ‘Porphyridium cruentum’ due largely to increased global demand” says Eyal Shalmon, CEO of Yemoja. “The polysaccharide has been investigated for its ability to be merged into various biotechnological applications and industry disciplines, including cosmetics and biomedicine. The soluble polysaccharide fraction is already being used in skincare products and in a considerable number of cosmetic formulations due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties,“ explained Mr Shalmon.
Yemoja has also teamed up with the Migal Galilee Research Institute Ltd – a regional R&D centre of the Israeli Science & Technology Ministry – alongside various European bodies to help further advance an algae-focused Horizon 2020 project. Specifically, the project is centred on exploring the long-term development and synthesis of novel algae-based small molecules for functional food and supplements aimed at alleviating Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS). In May, the project was given the green light to enter its next phase of development.