July 12, 2013
Kobelco Eco-Solutions Co., Ltd.

Kobelco Eco-Solutions succeeds in culturing microalgae with excellent biomass productivity and high oil content

Kobelco Eco-Solutions Co., Ltd. (also known as “KES”) has discovered a new strain of microalgae with excellent biomass productivity and a high oil content and has succeeded in culturing the new microalgae. The research was undertaken in collaboration with Professor Makoto Watanabe in the Graduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Tsukuba.

Research and development on microalgae as a next-generation biomass fuel are actively being undertaken worldwide. Microalgae can be used to produce algae oil as a potential alternative to crude oil. It does not compete with food and has an oil production capacity of 10 times or more compared with palm, rapeseed and other vegetable oils.

In the development of biofuel technology using microalgae as a raw material, the choice of species is an important issue. KES evaluated by changing the culture conditions, growth rate of various microalgae, oil content and other factors in collaboration with the University of Tsukuba. Recently, a new strain of Euglena (*1), which has excellent biomass productivity and a high oil content, was discovered.

KES and the University of Tsukuba confirmed through culture tests that the new strain of Euglena had a biomass productivity and oil content more than twice that of Euglena gracilis Z strain (National Institute for Environmental Studies stock strain: NIES-48), which has been considered as a promising biofuel. It was confirmed that the biomass obtained had a similar heating value to coal.

Sufficient growth in wastewater containing organic matter was also confirmed. It was found that there would be a potential to produce biofuel while purifying wastewater. Further optimization of culture conditions are in progress.

Using these results, KES will continue further research with the University of Tsukuba jointly to establish energy technology together with wastewater treatment.

In addition, through joint research with the University of Tsukuba, KES plans to contribute to both the Tsukuba International Strategic Research Zone and the Tohoku Recovery Next-generation Energy Research and Development Project.

KES will consider the possibility of producing health food utilizing the high nutritional value of Euglena. KES will also study the possibility of commercial production of products that utilize the functionality of immunostimulatory activity (*2) contained in paramylon (*3).


(*1)Euglena:A unique algae that conducts photosynthesis and can move by twisting itself.

(*2)Immunostimulatory activity: Effect to activate cells that control immunity

(*3)Paramylon: Polysaccharides ( ca. 700 polymerization) β1-3 bonding of glucose

Contact: Kobelco Eco-Solutions Co.,Ltd.

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