Bühler Group Accelerates Development of Advanced Microalgae Products


The Swiss group Bühler has confirmed that it is pursuing an advanced microalgae project with its Stellar Gemini system at the SEC’s Urban Microalgae Protein Project Laboratory in Singapore, reports Neill Barston.

As the company revealed to Confectionery Production, its latest venture has potential applications in a number of areas, including creating future snack lines – as well as the advanced ingredient already found in candy lines such than Smarties.

According to the company, its Stellar technology represents a world first and is based on nanosecond pulsed electric fields. It will be used to increase the efficiency of microalgae treatment. With its installation, the Urban Microalgae Protein project is taking a new step.

The SEC’s Urban Microalgae Protein project aims to develop a sustainable urban platform for the production of single-cell proteins and food concepts based on microalgae with taste and nutritional profiles that meet consumer preferences.

This three-year project is based in Singapore and is supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) program.

“The Stellar technology will enable us to deliver industry-relevant results to improve the eco-efficiency and productivity of microalgae supply chains by establishing a pulsed electric field (PEF)-based biorefinery as part of of the Urban Microalgae Protein project,” says Dr. Iris Haberkorn, project leader and senior scientist at SEC.

The first of its kind, Stellar technology uses nanosecond pulsed electric field treatment to grow single-celled cultures, such as microalgae, at a faster rate without biologically altering them. Stellar Gemini is the name of the device that allows the application of these pulses.

“The installed Stellar Gemini system enables application development and initial pilot-scale scaling on a flexible, easy-to-use platform. Operators have access to Bühler’s extensive know-how while having full flexibility for independent application development, ensuring maximum efficiency in process development,” says Dr. Leandro Buchmann, Bioprocessing Project Manager at Bühler.

The company also added that its latest process increases efficiency by up to 30% by increasing installed base capacity or reducing resource requirements.

Additionally, the ability to process different organisms/strains from the lab to an industrially relevant pilot scale. It is also a natural physical process in addition or as an alternative to the optimization of the raw material.

“Nanosecond pulsed electric field processing can have a huge impact on the bio-based field and the alternative protein sector by focusing on single-cell value chains. Our research provides the foundation to get more out of technology,” says Dr. Iris Haberkorn. “This is a step towards securing food supplies and building resilient and sustainable agri-food systems.”

The deployment of the Stellar technology system is the result of a strong, long-standing collaboration between the Bühler Group and ETH Zurich, which supports the SEC Microalgae project with its know-how, experience and expertise.

“Not only is the Stellar technology an outstanding example of technology transfer from academia to industry, but it is also a great achievement,” says Professor Alexander Mathys, Principal Investigator of the Urban Microalgae Protein project. “We are proud that the scientific foundations developed at ETH Zurich’s Sustainable Food Processing Laboratory have led to the development of a first industrial prototype system in just two years thanks to the extensive efforts of a large Bühler team, allowing us to deliver industry-relevant results. in the project.”

The project itself aims to improve Singapore’s food security by establishing resilient, sustainable and profitable agrifood systems using microalgae-based food products. In Singapore, the ambitious “30 by 30” target calls for an increase in capacity and capacity to meet locally and sustainably 30% of total food needs by 2030.

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