Plentex to focus on algae-based feed, high-value products

By Erin Voegele | March 05, 2013

Australian algae company Plentex Ltd. has released its financial results for the first half of its fiscal year, the six months ended Dec. 31. In an address, Chairman Peter Streader noted that Plentex aspires to be a leading producer of algae-derived products and raw materials. The company, he said, is focused on producing a portfolio of feed products, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and biofuels from both seaweed and microalgae.

Streader also said his company’s revised business plan recognizes the challenges confronting the production of algae biofuels, the likely timeframes, and the need to balance those changes against the need to produce cash-positive income streams in the near- to medium-term.

Regarding the production of aquaculture and livestock feed, Streader noted the objective it to reach commercial-scale production within two years. He said the company has entered discussions with a potential fish food off-take partner that is developing a fully-integrated aquaculture business in the Philippines. A memorandum of understanding is currently being negotiated. Streader estimates it could be signed within a month. The company is also working with the South Australian Research and Development Institute to finalize the scope and budget of a project to commercialize the growth of macroalgae, commonly known as seaweed.

Plentex’s goal in nutraceutical and high-value products space is to reach commercial-scale production of algae for use in nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, functional foods, cosmeceuticals and industrial chemicals within two years. As part its high-value product program, Streader noted that Plentex has entered a contract with SARDI to optimize certain strains of saltwater macroalgae. The strains will be cultivated in nine raceway ponds. Plentex and SARDI intent to carry out extraction tasks on the freeze dried biomass produced during the trial, Streader continued.

The company is also pursuing algae-derived feedstock for biofuels, but Streader notes his company’s biofuel program is unlikely to be realized without the coproduction of higher-value products. According to Streader’s statement, Plentex is still considering whether to proceed with an application funding under the Australia’s Clean Technology Innovation Program. If the company does proceed, Streader said the project would focus on developing a commercial demonstration-scale second generation biorefinery that produces both biofuels and value-added products.