The study’s results were published on September 7 in Marine Biotechnology.
VAXA decided to study in Iceland as the country is a world leader in developing clean geothermal energy status. Therefore, the company developed a technology platform that uses clean, natural outputs of an Icelandic geothermal plant to grow microalgae indoors.
The products are vegan-friendly
As per VAXA, they guarantee the production of a consistently stable product suitable for nutrition and food. They also claim that the company’s products are vegan-friendly, as well as free of antibiotics and pesticides.
“Through our unique management of culture and light, based on machine learning technology, our 24/7 bio-secured indoor production is fully controlled and optimized for growth,” claims VAXA.
“Our production process requires less than 1 percent of the fresh water and land footprint compared to industry standards.”
The company currently grows 120 metric tons (132 U.S. tons) of the algae per year and sells it as an ingredient to be used in food or supplements.
Spirulina algae (Spirulina platensis) cultivated in geothermally powered photobioreactors is here proposed as a potentially resource-efficient, zero-carbon, and nutritious alternative to conventional beef meat. Employing a standard life cycle assessment, the environmental impacts of large-scale Spirulina production in this facility are calculated. The production facility is sited in Orka náttúrunnar (ON Power) Geothermal Park, Iceland, and benefits from resource streams accessible through Hellisheiði (Hellisheidi) power station, including renewable electricity for illumination and power usage, hot and cold water streams for thermal management, freshwater for cultivation, and CO2 for biofixation. During cultivation, GHG-intensive ammonia-based fertilizers are replaced with macronutrients sourced from natural open mines. LCA results show that the production of 1 kg of wet edible biomass in this facility requires 0.0378 m2 of non-arable land, 8.36 m3 of fresh water, and is carbon neutral with − 0.008 CO2-eq GHG emissions (net zero). Compared with conventionally produced meat from beef cattle, Spirulina algae cultured in the ON Power Geothermal Park referred to in this study as GeoSpirulina, requires less than 1% land and water and emits less than 1% GHGs. Considering food and nutritional security concerns, cultivation in a controlled environment agriculture system assures a consistent nutritional profile year-round. Moreover, GeoSpirulina biomass assessed in this study contains all essential amino acids as well as essential vitamins and minerals. While keeping a balanced nutrition, for every kg of beef meat replaced with one kg GeoSpirulina, the average consumer can save ~ 100 kg CO2-eq GHGs. It is concluded that the environmental impacts of GeoSpirulina production in the Hellisheidi facility are considerably lower than those of conventionally produced ruminants.