The lead partner in this project, AER, has developed a patented enzyme-based technology which bursts algal cell walls and releases the Omega 3 oils in a simple solvent-free process. The company demonstrated that high-yield, high-quality Omega 3 oil recovery is achievable at 8000 L scale. The company has also made considerable commercial advances by amalgamating with Cellulac and incorporated a complementary algal lysis technology. The combination of AER know-how and Cellulac patented cavitation technology allows the commercialisation of an enzyme based lysis technology that had previously been uneconomic.
AER parent CELLULAC has been involved in algae cell disruption techniques since 2009 utilising the unique shear and cavitation qualities of the SONIQUEFLO reactor. In a 60Kg demonstration of harvested marine algae culture at 25% solids and typically 4 microns long, with an oil content of the algae species thought to be around 10% of the dry weight, after 2 passes through the SONIQUEFLO, a light microscopy oil (lipid) was stained using Sudan 4 in propylene glycol with the samples in the fully hydrated state. It was evident that all cellular structure has been eliminated in the algae species whose initial sizes were between 1.2µm to 5µm.
The use of SONIQUEFLO has further been demonstrated at industrial scale, to deliver a 25% reduction in enzyme consumption, independently verified over a 6 month period, at a 130 million gallon ethanol production plant. The results were as a direct result of increasing the specific surface area of starch by swelling in the pre-liquefaction stage.
In this Algzym project, the enzyme technology combined with SONIQUEFLO will be verified both technically and economically at commercial scale by carrying out production of three 80m3 batches producing a total 17 tonnes of Omega 3 oil during the demonstration stage of the project.