Man eats fish for omega-3, fish eats algae for omega-3: LanzaTech's new project to tap algae for omega-3

LanzaTech, the New Zealand-founded company working on commercialising a process to convert carbon dioxide into clean fuel, is now looking to C02 as a basis for feeding algae that can then be used to extract omega-3 rich fatty acids.

Lanza will be working with India’s IOC-DBT Center for Advanced Bio-Energy Research in this venture. If successful, the move will offer the potential for trapping carbon dioxide to be converted into omega-3 that can be used as supplements for fish. 

Fish are unable to synthesize omega-3 fatty acids, and must source them through their diet as well.

The current practice of using  huge quantities of wild fish as feed currently practiced in the aquaculture industry, or fish farms, in particular, contributes to overfishing crisis, LanzaTech says in a press release.

The fermentation process involves LanzaTech’s microbes producing acetate that is then consumed as energy and carbon by a proprietary algae developed by its partner at IOC-DBT.  These algae are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can be utilised as an omega-3 rich fish meal substitute, or the algal oil can be extracted and purified as an independent omega-3 lipid product.

IOC-DBT and LanzaTech hopes to set up a pilot plant at IOC (R&D) next year for this purpose.

“This project can be a game changer for production of omega-3 fatty acids and oil from algae in an economically viable method,” says Dr D K Tuli, executive director and centre coordinator of IOC-DBT centre.

LanzaTech’s CEO Jennifer Holmgren adds: “A platform that can produce sustainable food and fuels economically and at scale turns the issue of food versus fuels on its head. LanzaTech has long focused on increasing energy access and today we are a step closer to increasing access to affordable nutrition for all.”

Homegrown LanzaTech now based in the US. CEO Jennifer Holmgren

LanzaTech is currently working on commercialising Co2 discharged at steel mills to produce clean fuel. It has also been working with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic to develop jet fuel from waste gases.

In July this year, the BBC reported that a Norwegian company ,CO2BIO, is working with a consortium of seafood companies to develop omega-3 from carbon captured at Norwegian Technology Centre, Mongstad, reportedly the world's largest test facility for carbon capture and storage technologies. The backers of the project hope to use carbon dioxide from nearby refineries to feed through a tank containing a “soup” of seawater and algae, and later harvest the algae for drying and processing of omega-3.

CO2BIO, estimates that with their current method they can take one metric tonne of carbon dioxide and turn it into one of algae, which in turn yields somewhere between 660 and 880 pounds of oil, according to the BBC.

About LanzaTech

LanzaTech is the global leader in gas fermentation technology. LanzaTech’s unique process is currently protected by 100 patents, produces sustainable fuels and platform chemicals that serve as building blocks for everyday products such as rubber and plastics.

Founded in New Zealand, LanzaTech has raised more than US$160 million from investors such as Khosla Ventures, K1W1, Qiming Venture Partners, Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund, Petronas, Mitsui, Siemens and China International Capital Corp. 

About IOC-DBT
The IOC-DBT Centre for Advanced Bioenergy Research is jointly funded by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and Indian Oil Corporation Limited. The Centre is committed to advanced Bioenergy research addressing second and third generation biofuels.