OriginOil, Inc. has announced that its algae harvesting process reduces bacterial concentrations by as much as 99%, suggesting that this could extend the shelf life of liquid algae concentrate from hours to days. The results were achieved in lab tests under an independent university research program.

“When you harvest algae by any other means, it begins to smell very quickly like fish,” said Jose Sanchez, General Manager of OriginOil’s Algae Division. “Bacteria and other invaders feast on the biomass, especially the valuable oils, dramatically reducing the value of the crop within a matter of hours.”

Algae decay depends on the amount of bacterial colonies per gram (CFU/g). Once the number of bacterial colonies reaches a threshold, the algal biomass is considered “rotten”. The shelf life of algal biomass depends on the initial amount of bacterial colonies present in the sample and the growth rate of bacteria for the specific bacterial colony. The growth rate of bacteria is directly proportional to the moisture content and temperature. If the initial amount of bacteria is lowered, then the shelf life of the biomass increases, provided that temperature and moisture remain the same.

Sanchez added, “Based on in-house incubation tests, we can extend the life of freshly-harvested algae from the present 10-12 hours to 12 days or more. We believe that this has huge implications for our industry.”

In the study, an independent university team harvested algae from both open ponds and closed systems, using a well-known centrifugal process on the one hand, and OriginOil’s Algae Appliance on the other.

The samples were then sent to an FDA-audited laboratory for analysis. When compared with centrifuging, the Algae Appliance reduced bacterial colonies by 98% in the case of open ponds, and 99% for bioreactors.