Algae: Our Brackish Water Crop
Algae’s importance in the 21st century is in the news every week. From a possible source of clean biofuel to a nutrition solution for underserved populations, microalgae and macroalgae are being diligently studied all over the world. We already know that algae contributes greatly to our ecosystem, providing at least half of the breathable oxygen in our atmosphere and serving as a food source for animals both aquatic and terrestrial. But as potential uses for algae are currently being explored, we want to call your attention to its essential eco-friendliness. The algae that we cultivate for our Almega PL EPA omega-3 ingredient is grown using solar energy and in brackish water. This means that we are not only capturing a renewable resource to “grow our crop,” but also using water that would otherwise go to waste. Fresh or Salty? Brackish water is slightly salty and can be the product of different natural processes: the mingling of rivers and oceans, or the result of rivers running over ancient seas. Turning brackish water into fresh water for use by livestock and people – and many crops – requires chemical or desalination treatments, which are burdensome, expensive and potentially harmful to the environment. Souvenirs from the Permian period include amphibians and the salty underground remnants of the Permian Sea. Souvenirs from the Permian period include amphibians and the salty underground remnants of the Permian Sea. But instead of treating the local West Texas groundwater, our algae growing ponds near Imperial, Texas, use groundwater enriched with the salty remnants of the Permian Sea that existed in this region 250 million years ago. As the algae grows, they consume carbon dioxide from the air as part of the photosynthetic reaction, using renewable solar power to convert the CO2, nutrients and water into oxygen, carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty-acids. Land-Based Omega-3s for the Health of the Oceans It is important to us to use the resources we have at hand for our algae production process. The sun is a key renewable source of energy, carbon dioxide is freely available, and the ground under Texas contains an estimated 880 trillion gallons of brackish water. The results are outstanding! Our Nannochloropsis oculata algae is an effective, bioavailable source of high-quality EPA omega-3s. But creating our algae-based omega-3 on land also means that we are doing our part for ocean conservation. Despite global and environmental efforts to monitor the fish farming and commercial fishing industries, the seas and their vitally important food webs are still at risk because of warming temperatures and ocean acidification, which decrease fish stocks and more. (Experts in ocean conservation and sustainability look ahead to 2050.) We’re proud to be making strides for both algae awareness and sustainable production of omega-3s!