Pharmaceuticals among first sectors to benefit from algae - analyst

22 February 2010 22:52  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--High-value commodities such as pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals will be the first end-markets to benefit from algae bioengineering and farming, a US analyst said on Monday.

Small markets for high-value commodities will open up in the next two years, and within 3-4 years the algae industry could enter mid-sized markets for animal feed and specialty fuels, said William Thurmond, futurist and president of US-based Emerging Markets Online.

Investment trends in the algae field favour companies with a proof of concept. Specifically, those are companies with pilot projects that are ready to scale up, Thurmond said at the International Polyolefins Conference 2010.

Investment in companies producing fuels from algae is also an ongoing trend, but the scale-up process is a major hurdle and will take years.

Eventually, algae could help bridge the feedstock gap toward meeting the US government’s 21bn gal advanced biofuels target in 2022, he said.

Currently, 98% of all commercial algae is in ponds, Thurmond said.

Researchers are also developing more efficient systems of tubes, or photo-bioreactors, but these are capital intensive.

A third industrial technique involves growing algae without sunlight in the presence of carbohydrate feedstocks.

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By: David Barry
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