In September 2014 scientist Ruud Veloo was hired to reinforce AlgaePARC’s research team. Veloo has extensive experience with bio-process technology, culturing of microorganisms as well as up-scaling of fermentation processes. For about ten years Veloo worked at Quest International, part of Unilever, where he initiated research for the production of novel natural flavors. During this period he worked extensively with microorganism and fermentation techniques. During the last fifteen years he continued to work with microorganisms, fermentation, enzymes and scaling technologies at the food ingredients division of ICI, later bought by the Irish company Kerry.
Veloo will mainly participate in the project AlgaePARC Biorefinery. He will be responsible for the startup and operation of the new pilot tubular air lift photobioreactor, and the new Biorefinery downstream equipment. In this indoor facility, custom made algae can be produced for internal research groups and industrial partners, independent on weather and season. The reactor is cost-effective due to the use of low cost materials and improved energy-efficiency.
The produced algae will be used to develop mild extraction technologies to separate and remove different compounds from the algae cell. Currently, commercial algae culturing is mainly aimed at producing for niche markets. The Biorefinery project aims to extend markets for algae products by developing methods for cost-effective ‘bulk’ production of oils, proteins and carbohydrates.
‘I have quite some experience with technologies needed for mild extraction of valuable compounds’, Veloo says. ‘There are a variety of possible methods, including enzymatic processes. We will use innovative techniques like Supersonic Fluid Feed and Pulsed Electric Field, with which we can fine tune the level of disruption’ .The coming weeks Veloo aims at testing and starting up his reactor. Then the real challenge will start.