What about Algae? The New Industrial Energy Powerhouse?

The industrial value for the energy process of photosynthesis has been really kind and in harmony with the ecosystem all the time. Photosynthesis is being adopted by every single domain of life directly or indirectly for surviving in the ecosystem. For a long period of time and even for the longer duration, we have been completely dependent on trees for many energy-intensive changes by human civilization. But there are other options that conduct the same process with very few resources and can be grown easily as compared to the plants and trees which need more appropriate ambiance. But the tiny single cells can adapt to multiple and even grow effectively in wastewater streams. The process of algae photosynthesis is carbon neutral and can be effectively be converted to carbon negative sources of energy. Although, there is no clear definition of algae that determines its industrial status and market value for ex: we know names like mango trees, apple trees, kale, spinach, and so on. We do not have any standardized taxonomy and market names. There are several markets and daily value-based products are associated with algae but require a clear classification of the products.  This article aims to explain the general introduction of `What about algae`? And how to bridge the gap between the shortcomings between the market and research and development. This article will answer the most relevant question to different groups interested in the field; academics, industry, investors, environmentalists, stakeholders, and government organizations. It will share the information and knowledge from the researcher’s perspective and current market scenario compiling the information from the science and business of algae biomass, biotechnology, and related products. Algae is a group of different colors, different shapes, different yet common characteristics of single-cell organisms. These traits also define their biochemical components such as pigments, polysaccharides, lipids, silica, etc. Some of the types are rich in complex polysaccharides which have functions like antiviral, antibacterial and could also be used for producing bioplastics. Many algae species are rich in different types of oils that have a functional role in biofuel industry and nutraceutical and cosmetics industry.  They are also rich in carotenoids which are found in almost all vegetables and fruits.

seaweed-in-water

Especially, the time of COVID also teaches us to transform our lives in a more sustainable and quick manner without depending on nature extensively without returning at the same speed. Fortunately, we learned a hard lesson that with the present minor human movement, nature is healing quickly. It might require to change and adopt new global policies which can happen with the global understanding of shifting the industry from agriculture or forest-dependent to algae-based products.  This should be followed by a strict quantitative estimation of its present quality of the algae products and predicted growth in its development.

The initial interest in the algae industry was in the 1950s but advance more during the energy crisis in the 1970s. But there was confusion regarding the applicability or scalability of the algae industry in a real-life context. But with different inputs from researchers, start-up ventures, non-profit organizations have developed tools for algae farming such as stressors, bioreactors, genetic engineering tools, river ecology, etc which are directing towards the carbon-neutral economy. Certainly, it will be advanced more in the future with recent and strong advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence. General replicability can be developed in a large number of places especially in developing countries with a lack of resources. The most primitive quality of algae biomass is the mutual advancement in both genetic engineering, bioreactor development, and advancements in light technologies which all make it possible. The proposition of programs aims at increasing the interaction between the researchers, industrialists, and start-up ventures to collaborate and integrate the resources to promote the development of Algae technology at a small scale and large-scale level. The wide and multiple ranges of options to use the algae biomass a neutral and robust raw material for processing it for biomass and biotech products. With all these ideas and information in mind, it is important to have an accurate and clear map of algae development and its applications. In the present scenario, there is no particular choice or favors a particular technology for the algal biomass industry as all the factors involved are interdependent with each other.

The North America Algae Biomass Sector is holding a big percentage in terms of market size. North America has invested surplus money in the healthcare industry with reported over 3 trillion dollars in 2016 by the US government. Algae derived compounds have found a prominent place in the healthcare domain both in Canada and the US market. It is crucial to make a key transformation in the millennial preference towards health supplements and other products that are needed in daily consumption. Presently, there are certain edible products from microalgae based on Chlorella and Spirulina. These strains are also in use as feed for hatcheries taking into account its complete nutrition profile. It would be interesting if the Union register about algae which can be used as additives or edibles according to its application with respect to the ecosystem. It will lay the foundation for the stakeholders to build the catalogs and platform with more clarity to be understood by the consumers or business people. With the current development of smart business and private producers, it is possible to conduct a large-scale market campaign and develop a sustainable algae business platform.

Published by Nikunj

A biologist and A hiker

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