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From RAS effluent to solar panels: how algae give value to waste water

Sophie Allert, Swedish Algae Factory chief executive and co-founder. All photos: Swedish Algae Factory.
Sophie Allert, Swedish Algae Factory chief executive and co-founder. All photos: Swedish Algae Factory.

A company that uses algae to convert effluent water from recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) into valuable products has received new funding from Aqua-Spark, which invests in sustainable aquaculture.

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Gothenburg-based Swedish Algae Factory extracts a nanoporous silica material from diatoms, which are unicellular microscopic algae, and has developed the first economically viable facility to grow the algae on RAS effluents.

The diatom extract has exceptional light-altering properties as well as the ability to absorb or release particles depending on its surrounding environment.

Sophie Allert, left, with her Swedish Algae Factory her founder, Angela Wulff.
Sophie Allert, left, with her Swedish Algae Factory her founder, Angela Wulff.

Solar panels

Branded Algica, the material can replace harmful and/or less efficient chemical substances. For example, Algica improves the efficiency of solar panels and can be used for moisturisation, cleansing, and ultraviolet light protection in personal care products. 

Although RAS facilities use relatively little water, they have to discharge water each day. Even after filtering out solid waste, high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus remain.

Swedish Algae Factory’s circular model means the algae cleans the wastewater, absorbs carbon dioxide, and also creates nutrient-rich organic biomass that can be used for fish feed or fertiliser.

Primary investor

Aqua-Spark is a primary investor in Swedish Algae Factory’s latest round of funding, which will be used for expansion.

“We are really excited that with this injection we’ll be able to increase production and meet the growing demand for Algica in the personal care and solar energy industries,” said Swedish Algae Factory’s chief executive and co-counder Sofie Allert in a press release.

“We are also very happy to bring Aqua-Spark on board, a strong investor with great expertise from the aquaculture sector.”

Circular economy

Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark, said: “Swedish Algae Factory’s implementation of the circular economy impressed us from the start.

“By upcycling wastewater into high-value products for the solar and cosmetic industries, the brand is solving a major issue for land-based aquaculture and sustaining a separate, diversified business model.”

The Swedish Algae Factory pilot plant.
The Swedish Algae Factory pilot plant.
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