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Spirulina Production Process


Spirulina ( Arthospira sp) used for the production of single –cell protein. The commercial producers of Spirulina are located in the United States, Thailand, India, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Burma and Chile.

Cultivation - Spirulina is mostly cultivated in open-channel raceway ponds with paddle wheels used to agitate the water.

Harvesting - Since, Spirulina is a filamentous algae (meaning that it grows in strands), it's shape allows for harvesting by stainless steel screens. This method uses far less energy that centrifugation (which is used for chlorella, another microalgae) and is gentle on the cells.

While the spirulina is being sieved out on screens it is given several fresh water washes, ensuring a clean product with a fresh taste. Ponds are harvested to half of their depth, with what remains being the seed for the next generation. It is like mowing the lawn - part left behind grows again.

The best time for harvesting is early morning for various reasons:
- the cool temperature makes the work easier,
- more sunshine hours will be available to dry the product,
- the % proteins in the spirulina is highest in the morning.

There are basically two steps in harvesting :
- filtration to obtain a "biomass" containing about 10 % dry matter (1 liter = 100 g dry) and 50 % residual culture medium. Filtration is simply accomplished by passing the culture through a fine weave cloth, using gravity as the driving force.
- removal of the residual culture medium to obtain the "fresh spirulina biomass", ready to be consumed or dried, containing about 20 % dry matter and practically no residual culture medium.

Spirulina Introduction

    Spirulina is a human and animal food or nutritional supplement made primarily from two species of cyanobacteria: Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima.

Cultivation and Growth Requirements

"The optimum temperature for growth is 35oC, but above 38oC spirulina is in danger. Growth only takes place in light (photosynthesis), but illumination 24 hours a day is not recommended.

Spirulina Composition

    Spirulina contains about 60% (51-71%) protein of its dry weight. The protein content varies by 10-15% according to the time of harvesting in relation to daylight.

Spirulina Application

"Spirulina spp. and its processing products are employed in agriculture, food industry, pharmaceutics, perfumery and medicine. Spirulina has several pharmacological activities such as antimicrobial (including antiviral and antibacterial), anticancer, metalloprotective (prevention of heavy-metal poisoning against Cd, Pb, Fe, Hg).

Spirulina – Facts & Factoids

"Spirulina is not considered to be a reliable source of Vitamin B12. The standard B12 assay, using Lactobacillus leichmannii, shows spirulina to be a minimal source of bioavailable vitamin B12.

Spirulina – Market

"Spirulina is now commercially available in tablet or powder form. During 1970-1980, at the time when spirulina was launched on the market, the market for food supplements was not organised and regulated as is the case today.

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