Algae are eukaryotic photosynthetic creatures that belong to the Protista kingdom. However, they are mostly found in water, and they can also be found in other habitats. They can exist as single cells or in colonies of several cells. Algae are polyphyletic, meaning they share no common ancestor. Their plastids appear to have originated in cyanobacteria, albeit they were most likely acquired in several ways. Based on their hue, algae are categorized as red, green, or brown algae. This is owing to the pigments chlorophyll, phycobiliproteins, and carotenoids found in their chloroplasts.
Algae lack plant-like characteristics such as real roots, leaves, and stalks. This is something they have in common with lesser plants like liverworts and mosses. They also lack specialized structures like those needed for reproduction, which distinguishes them from multicellular organisms. Algae can be categorized based on the habitat in which they live. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, making them practically ubiquitous on the planet. Algae that grow on other creatures are classified as “parasitic” algae. Epizoic algae are algae that grow on mammals. Epiphytic algae attach themselves to fungi, plants, and even other algae. Endosymbionts are creatures that grow inside the bodies of other organisms.
Application Scope for Algae in Diverse Industries
Algae is already widely employed in a variety of industries, including food, biofuel, cosmetics, bio-packaging, bioplastics, and pharmaceutical applications. Because of the huge number of species (potentially millions) whose composition can be altered by changing growing conditions, the number of goods that can be manufactured from algae is nearly limitless. This resource is virtually unexplored, with only a few commercial algae-based products accessible.
Agar is widely utilized as a gelatin substitute in the food industry. It is also used for making creams, mayonnaise, sauces, jellies, puddings, and frozen dairy products. It’s also used to thicken and gel jams and marmalade, as well as to keep bread and pastries from drying out. Agar is also used as a thickener in ice cream and other desserts. Microalgae for human nutrition is currently available in a variety of formats, including pills, capsules, and liquids. They can also be found in snacks, pasta, candy bars, and chewing gums, as well as nutrition bars, noodles, wine, breakfast cereals, beverages, and cookies.
In China, algae have a long history of being used as an herbal medication to cure sunstroke and digestive issues. Algae products are also used in the modern pharmaceutical sector. Algae has been used medicinally since ancient times to cure diseases such as coughs, hypertension, diarrhoea, and gout. The utilization of algae as anti-cancer drugs is the focus of the current study. Antibiotics have been isolated from a diverse range of algae, each with its chemical activity. In the pharmaceutical business, these molecules offer a lot of potentials. Cryptophycin 1, a chemical found in blue-green algae, has been identified as an anticancer treatment with high potential. Various microalgae species contain extremely strong alkaloids that can be utilized to cure cancer.
In the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and food industries, chemicals with antioxidant characteristics and vitamin components have a huge potential. Algae-derived goods can be found in nail enamels, body lotions, lipsticks, shaving creams, and shampoos. Algae products are employed in thickening agents, water-binding agents, antioxidants, iridescent pigment, and cosmetic packaging. Some microalgal species, particularly Arthrospira and Chlorella, are well-known in the skin care industry, with some cosmeticians even investing in their own microalgal production.
Algae is a great raw material for bioplastic manufacture because of its various benefits, including high yields and the capacity to grow in a variety of settings. Bioremediation of fissures, concrete strengthening, and big routing are examples of industrial applications. Bio-plastics, also known as organic plastics, is a type of plastic created from renewable biomass like vegetable oil and starches, as opposed to fossil-fuel plastics, which come from nonrenewable petroleum sources. Bioplastics have the added benefit of being environmentally benign and reducing the use of fossil fuels. In comparison to traditional methods of using corn and potatoes as plastics, algae-based plastics are a relatively new invention in the bioplastics era.
Seaweed has long been utilized as a fertilizer in coastal areas around the world, primarily for its mineral content and to boost the soil’s water-binding ability. Nitrogen-fixing microalgal species are significant, notably in rice farming. Most nutrients are still present in the left-over biomass after oil or carbohydrates are extracted from both seaweed and microalgae. Biofertilizer is one possible market for this nutrient-rich biomass. While the market volume is high, the market value is low. In many circumstances, extracting these nutrients for reuse in algae culture may be more cost-effective.
Many wastewater treatment plants now use algae to reduce the need for more harmful chemicals. Algae can be utilized to catch fertilizer runoff from surrounding farms that enter lakes and streams. Some power stations employ algae to reduce CO2 emissions. Wastewater treatment, heavy metal biosorption, soil additives, conditioners, CO2 capture, and fertilizers are some of the possible applications.
Emerging Opportunities for Players Operating in Algae Market
The global algae market is being driven by increased demand from the pharmaceutical industry, an increase in the global population, and a rising demand for feed and food supplements, among other macroeconomic factors. Other factors, such as rising demand for healthier food products and increased demand for aquaculture feed used in fish breeding, will assist to reduce the market’s growth rate. Furthermore, the growing number of government and commercial efforts supporting aquaculture research and development, as well as consumer demand for natural ingredients, will boost the market for algal products.
Major Trends Observed in Algae Market
One of the most common algal product market trends in the development of alternative protein sources such as microalgae. Alternative protein sources, such as microalgae, are essential for achieving the necessary change to a more egalitarian and resilient food system. For example, Unilever, a consumer goods corporation based in the United Kingdom, collaborated with Algenuity, an algal products firm based in the United Kingdom, to produce novel microalgae products for Unilever’s plant-based portfolio. Algenuity will collaborate with Unilever’s Dishes and Refreshment (F&R) division’s R&D team to test new microalgae-based foods.
In contrast to the early days of ethanol and biodiesel, when Big Oil was viewed as the enemy, algae-oriented companies, from producers to end-users, are now interested in working with large corporations because of their ability to provide funding and research, as well as access to and logistics for the market, and go-to-market strategies. The majority of the interest has been placed on algae biofuels as large-scale drop-in replacement fuels. Chemicals, feed, nutraceuticals, and food businesses are also interested, as the path to producing nonfuel algae-derived goods may be simpler than fuels, markets may be more accessible, and margins may be higher.
Owing to high protein and nutritional nature, algal ingredients are now commonly found in candies, gums, snacks, and other beverages. Microalgae are widely used in nutraceutical items such as nutrient bars, functional beverages, and supplements. Arthospira and chlorella are two types of algae that are often used as food supplements. Spirulina and chlorella have become extremely popular in recent years due to their health advantages, particularly immunological health. Algae products are also gaining popularity in the biofuel industry.
Major Challenges for Players Working in Algae Market
There are a number of roadblocks and difficulties that will impede total market expansion. Factors such as the high setup cost for an algae production system are expected to stifle growth. These reasons are limiting the global algae market’s overall growth. Nonetheless, commercial byproduct expansion, algae-based biofuel production technologies, and undiscovered potential in new markets all present intriguing growth opportunities. Moreover, the lack of R&D activities in underdeveloped countries, as well as a lack of awareness, would pose a challenge to the algal market.
Algae Market Diversified Scenario in Different Regions
Asia-Pacific is expected to develop at the quickest rate in the near future. Algae products that are used in the food processing industry are primarily farmed in Asian countries. Due to the capability of cultivating high-quality carrageenan, the region is expected to account for a major share of the carrageenan production industry. Spirulina and Chlorella, for example, are algae-based superfoods that provide nutritious, vegan supplements for human use. The increased consumption of nutraceuticals, particularly in China and Japan, is helping market expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.
North America holds a significant share of the algae market and will continue to do so in the coming years because of the rising incidences of diseases and conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as the growing geriatric population and increased healthcare awareness in this region. As the market in these regions is not concentrated by significant competitors, most manufacturers are focusing on expanding their current production capacity by increasing sales in various developing regions. In the dietary supplement area of the market, the players additionally focused on developing novel storage and production procedures.
Recent Developments & Events that Influenced the Algae Market
For almost six months, scientists used algae to power a basic computer. Engineers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have successfully powered a microprocessor for more than six months using only the current provided by a common cyanobacteria species. The approach is designed to power large groups of electronic equipment. Algae could be the middle-ground solution, operating as a solar cell and living battery to produce a steady current without the need for nutrient replenishment. Algae is already being investigated as a source of energy for larger enterprises, but it might also power a plethora of little gadgets.
Prometheus Materials, based in Colorado, has produced masonry blocks made from a low-carbon cement-like substance derived from micro-algae. The blocks were manufactured with an organic cement-like material grown in bioreactors that similarly reproduces itself to coral and meets ASTM criteria. The bio-cement might be mass-produced as an alternative to portland cement, which relies on clinker formed from crushed and burned limestone and is a major source of carbon emissions. The procedure separates the calcium, which is an important component of cement, from the carbon that is discharged into the environment.
A new study proposes a framework for boosting crop development by adapting an approach from a fast-growing green algae species. The algae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, include a pyrenoid organelle that speeds up the conversion of carbon absorbed from the air into a form that may be used by the organisms for growth. Many experts feel that the algae pyrenoid can provide such a breakthrough. If scientists can build a pyrenoid-like ability to concentrate carbon into plants like wheat and rice, these vital food sources could see a significant increase in growth rates.
WavePure ADG 8250 is Cargill’s first seaweed powder item within the WavePure ADG series. This “familiar and versatile” marine ingredient was created to enhance smooth and creamy textures in dairy products while also providing gelling and thickening qualities.
EPS-Revive is an algae-based skincare component from Yemoja that contains topical beauty element that is developed from a red algae species. Vitamins, Protein, and antioxidants are abundant in red algae. All these substance help the skin retain its moisture and then replace its natural hydration.
Increasing Competitiveness in Algae Market
The Metropolitan Council’s pilot project for cultivating algae in a wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul, Minnesota, is focusing on unused water for algal projects. The goal of the experiment is to see if the system can remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater while also cultivating algae that may be used to make biofuels. Because there is a ready supply of nutrients, carbon, heat, and water, municipal wastewater treatment plants are an attractive alternative for algae enterprises. Algae might also help the city meet more rigorous environmental rules for phosphorus and nitrogen removal, perhaps saving the city money in the long run.
Green Plains Renewable Energy, a multi-plant ethanol firm based in Nebraska, has partnered up with BioProcessH2O to construct two pilot algal carbon capture plants to absorb CO2 from fermentation. Several firms have also looked into using algae as a supplementary feedstock for corn in fermentation-based ethanol production. Utilities are also looking into using algae to collect carbon. Great River Energy, a Midwest-based utility, has teamed up with Minnesota-based Ever Cat Fuels LLC to explore how algae can be used to collect carbon and then processed into biodiesel using Ever Cat’s processing technology at a coal-fired power plant in western North Dakota. Algae has also made an appearance in the ethanol business.
Valero Energy Corp. contributed to Solix Biofuels’ recent $16 million fundraising round. According to the company, it’s only one of many initiatives they’re looking into. Other biofuel attempts include buying ten corn ethanol plants in order to control the output of the ethanol it must blend with its gasoline. Valero can meet any renewable fuels standards, minimize exposure to potential carbon prices, and serve as a viable hedge against declining oil supply by investing in an algae-to-fuels company.
Future Prospects for Algae Market
Future demand for algae and algal products will be determined by partially contradictory tendencies. The usage of seaweeds will be encouraged by population growth, pollution, overexploitation of land, and a scarcity of fresh water. This development will be aided by modern biotechnology, but it will also pose a severe danger to the economic use of seaweeds. The effort put into and the results of seaweed research will have a significant impact on the future usage of marine algae.
Current biotechnology aspires to provide a comprehensive and accurate source of information on current advances and future views on biotechnology’s key subjects. Recent advances in algal biotechnology focusing on the production of bioproducts by handling various waste streams in the Circular Economy framework works dealing with the cultivation, safety, feasibility, and long term aspects of using waste streams as nutrient origins for producing bio-based goods and algal biomass.