Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge 2018

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Intensive production of spirulina for animal nutrition and aquatic feeding.

         Demand for source products is increasing due to a waste of changes in our consumers in international markets and in special markets around the world where it is expanding (Myers and Kent 2003, Hopkins et al., 2007). However, the two obstacles are mandatory, with the intention of being notified; 1) increased competition for land, with urban sprawl, production of biofuels and other agricultural applications, land occupation, otherwise for animal production (Godfray et al., 2010; Poppi and McLennan 2010; Smith et al., 2010 ); and 2) climatic conditions that negatively affect water and feed availability in current production regions (Gaunt et al., 2010; Poppi and McLennan 2010). An identification of new feed resources is therefore crucial for animal production sustainable and future viability. Ideally, the new feed develops a high nutritional value and conversion efficiency, able to optimize product quality and use land and water efficiently (Poppi and McLennan 2010). Consequently, Spirulina is emerging as a potential candidate to meet the criteria.

      Spirulina (Arthrospira sp.) Is a spiral, filamentous and edible cyanobacterium, formally classified as a blue-green microalga (Becker 2007; Gouveia et al., 2008; Gupta et al., 2008). It is naturally found in the alkaline lakes of Mexico and Africa (Belay et al., 1996; Shimamatsu 2004), where it has a long history as a source of food for ancient human inhabitants. Spirulina was "rediscovered" relatively recently by Leonard and Compere in the 1960s (Shimamatsu 2004), and has since become a mass-produced product (Shimamatsu 2004, Spolaore et al., 2006). Currently, Spirulina is used as a nutritional supplement for both humans and animals (Muhling et al., 2005).

    Spirulina is commercially produced in a liquid medium rich in nutrients (Shimamatsu 2004), so it can be produced with high efficiency of land use. For example, Spirulina produces many other traditional types of feed, including wheat, corn, barley and soybeans, in protein production per land unit (Dismukes et al., 2008, Kulpys et al., 2009). In addition, Spirulina can be actively produced using desalinated wastewater (Volkmann et al., 2008).

      Currently, Spirulina is relatively expensive to produce and buy compared to other pet foods. This makes its use impractical in many large-scale animal production operations. Moreover, the palatability of Spirulina, the dry powder form, and the smell of smell all limit its use in animal production (Becker, 2007). However, the cost of production of Spirulina can be reduced with developments in low-cost growth media and an improvement in the operational management of Spirulina nutrient use efficiency and growth rate (Shimamatsu 2004; Raoof et al. Peiretti and Meineri 2011). In addition, research into Spirulina delivery methods and their impact on product quality is increasingly enabling us to gain a better understanding of the practicalities of its use.

     Spirulina is rich in nutrients. Contains all essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It is also a rich source of carotenoids and fatty acids, especially γ-linolenic acid (GLA) that infers health benefits (Howe et al., 2006). However, the high protein content of Spirulina distinguishes it as a novel animal feed (Belay et al., 1993; Doreau et al., 2010). The nutritional value of Spirulina has been the subject of several reviews (Ciferri 1983; Belay et al., 1993, Diraman et al., 2009). However, their nutritional values ​​are known to vary slightly depending on the production system. These differences were also the subject of several studies (Vonshak and Richmond 1988, Tokusoglu and Unal 2003, Babadzhanov et al., 2004, Muhling et al., 2005, Mata et al., 2010).

       In marketing and high density culture practice, a feed and a contribution to rapid growth and high yields. Aquafeed is potentiated with many ingredients in highly balanced nutritional components to enhance digestive mechanisms in the fish and shrimp body. It leads the best body weights, high health, ideal immunity, more survivors, lower incidence of diseases, etc. in aquaculture ponds. Spirulina is a unique high quality natural diet with an improved protein for fish and shrimp that has proven to be a better complementary feed in aquaculture.

      The use of spirulina as complementary feed in various aquaculture sectors, resulting in rapid growth factors, increasing pigmentation and immunity systems. It is considered an excellent food, which has no toxic and has corrective properties against pathogenic microorganisms. Cellulose cell walls are missing and therefore does not require a permit or processing to become digestible. The digestibility is 83 to 84%. Spirulina is considered a source of protein, vitamins, essential minerals, amino acids, EFFA, such as gamma LNA and antioxidant pigments such as carotenoid.

    Spirulina contains 60-70% protein, along with phenolic acids, tocopherols, carotenes and linolenic acids, which represent an important stapale in diets. The amino acids are around 47% of the total weight of the protein. The amino acid spectrum represents the biological value of the proteins in spirulina and very high.

     Spirulina contains about 15-21% carbohydrate in the form of glucose, fructose, sucrose, rhamnose, mannose, xylose and galactose. It provides the appropriate and important food for aquatic animals with problems of low intentional absorption. Carbohydrates occur in sufficient quantities of mesoinositol phosphate, which is an excellent source of organic phosphorus and inositol. The DNA repair system, in the immunoregulatory and immunoregulatory properties. It is believed to be a high-weight polysaccharide.

      Spirulina contains 2.2% - 3.5% RNA and 0.6% -1% and DNA, which represents less than 5% acids, based on dry weight.

   Spirulina has a large amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and 1.5-2.0 percent of total lipids. Spirulina is rich in γ-linolenic acid (ALA), linoleic acid (LA), stearidonic acid (SDA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). Vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B6 ​​(pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), B12 (cyanocobalamin), vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E. β- B, a vitamin E, iron, potassium and chlorophyll available in spirulina can promote the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, alcohol and reproduction of skin, muscle and mucosa. A spirulina contains large amounts of natural β-carotene and this β-carotene is converted to vitamin A.

      Spirulina is a source of potassium and also calcium calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, zinc, molybdenum, chloride, germanium and boron.

        Spirulina contains many pigments, including chlorophyll a, xanthophylline, beta-carotene, equinenone, mixoxanthole, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, diatoxanthine, 3-hydroxyiterinone, beta-cryptoxanthin, oscylaxanthine, more like phycobiliproteins, c-phycochanin, allophycocyanin. Phycocyanin (Blue): 14%, Chlorophyll (Green): 1%, Carotenoids (Orange / Red): 47%.

        Spirulina can be used as a partial complement or complete replacement of protein in aqua foods. Spirulina is a food supplement for all fish, giant freshwater prawns and seawater prawns and significant improvement in growth, survival, immunity, viability and food utilization. A spirulina is a cheaper food ingredient with high protein than other animal sources. A diet of spirulina is found as complementary feed more adequate to reduce the time of cultivation and mortality, and to increase the thickness of the shrimp shell. Feeding spirulina helps to improve disease resistance and improve survival rates. Rapid growth occurs when fed a diet containing spirulina flour (Britz, 1996).

     Spirulina has a unique quality to detoxify (neutralize) O to chelate toxic minerals, and this characteristic is not yet noticed in any other microalgae (Maeda and Sakaguchi 1990, Okamura and Aoyama 1994). A spirulina can be used to detoxify arsenic from water and food. It can also be used to chelate or detoxify or neutralize the poisonous effect of heavy metals (minerals) from water, food and the environment. Spirulina provides a phycocyanin, a source of biliverdin that is among the most potent of all intracellular antioxidants.

     Spirulina is an effective immune modulator. It exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, particularly inhibiting a release of histamine from mast cells with mediated allergic reactions. It shows the agent of elimination of antioxidative radicals and free radicals. Exposure to spirulina increases as phagocytic functions of macrophages in aquatic animals. It also has antiviral and anticarcinogenic properties. It improves the potential for bacterial intestinal clearance of fish / shrimp and supplements of spirulina develop the phagocytic cell. Spirulina is a safe diet to use in terms of improving immune competence without compromising the behavioral behaviors of aquatic animals. A new spirulina sulfate polysaccharide inhibits the replication of several viruses involved. Spirulina nutrients help fight free radicals, cell damaging molecules absorbed by the body through pollution, poor nutrition, injury or stress. By removing free radicals, nutrients help the immune system fight cancer and cell degeneration. Spirulina is a powerful tonic for the immune system. This enzyme is an important source of superoxide in the body of an animal, and is involved in dozens of degenerative processes involved in disease resistance, aging and similar processes in fish, shrimp and other aquatic animals.

       Spirulina is rich in a bright blue polypeptide called Phycocyanin. Phycocyanin affects the stem cells that make up the cellular immune system and the red blood cells that oxygenate the body. Phytocyanin-stimulating hematopoiesis (the breeding of blood), emulating the effect of the hormone erythropoietin (EPO). Phycocyanin also regulates the production of white blood cells, even when stem cells from the bone marrow are damaged by toxic chemicals or radiation. Calcium-Spirulan is a unique spirulina-polymerized sugar molecule extract containing both sulfur and calcium. The treatment of this water-soluble extract has better recovery rates when infected with a herpes lethal virus. This mechanism occurs because Calcium-Spirulan does not allow the virus to penetrate the cell membrane to infect the cell. The virus is stuck, unable to replicate. It is eventually eliminated by the body's natural defenses. Spirulina can prevent or inhibit cancer in aquatic animals and fish. Single spirulina polysaccharides increase the enzymatic activity of the cell nucleus and the synthesis of DNA repair. Spirulina excretes varying amounts of products from your metabolism such as organic acid, vitamins and phytohormones. Spirulina cell extract showed antimicrobial activities against pathogenic bacteria such as Bacillus sps, Streptococcus sps, Saccharomyces sps etc. Spirulina thrives in high alkaline waters and incorporates and synthesizes many minerals and derived compounds in its cellular structure. Transformed into natural organic forms by Spirulina, the minerals become chelated with amino acids and are more easily assimilated by the body. Along with adequate calcium and magnesium in the water (especially for marine organisms), Spirulina helps ensure adequate electrolyte function, levels of calcium over calcium and other minerals.

        Research has shown that saltwater fish and shrimp exhibit superior growth, maturity, energy performance and more elegant colors when fed with spirulina. It is also well documented that spirulina improves rates of spawning, fecundity, fertility and incubation. It stimulates the reproductive processes, increases survival rates of younger fish, puts larvae and promotes fish / shrimp appetite to reach full maturity.

      The appearance of color is the most important feature in the case of shrimp and fish for choice and demand in the food market. The spirulina diet promotes physiological activities to generate color pigments and showcase appearance on various parts of the body. Carotenoids are responsible for the development of various crustacean colors (Britton et al., 1981). Astaxanthin has been shown to be the predominant carotenoid associated with the red color of the black tiger cream Penaeus monodon (Howell and Matthews, 1991). Spirulina platensis & pacifica stain contains the highest levels of β-carotene and zeaxanthin from any natural source. Both are converted into astaxanthin by an oxidative process for the desired red pigment. A marked increase in the carotenoid content of the black tiger prawn carapace (Penaeus monodon) occurred when the diets supplemented with spirain were given. A practical strategy for improved pigmentation of P. monodon grown is the incorporation of the spirulina diet for one month prior to harvest.

           As the medicines are fed, a Spirulina plays an important role in aquaculture. Especially in aquatic agriculture and in the incubator, etc., the results are quite significant. Since as microcapsules, an aid and a digestion and development of the shell and its object are more obvious. The prospects of Spirulina are much brighter in food applications. Spirulina appears to have considerable potential for development, especially as a culture of scale for nutritional enhancement, livelihood development, and environmental mitigation. Spirulina is widely used in aquaculture and can promote the growth of cultivated species, increase appetite, increase resistance to diseases and increase the survival rate of larvae in aquaculture, and is quick and easy to grow.


     Spirulina Dietetics has been associated with higher cost efficiency in chicken production. Venkataraman et al. (1994) found that premixtures of vitamins and minerals normally added to chicken feeds may be omitted when Spirulina is included because of its nutrient-rich composition. In addition, chickens receiving dietary Spirulina have been found to be healthier than non-supplemented counterparts (Venkataraman et al., 1994). This is due to the increased macrophage functionality and global mononuclear phagocyte system indicative of disease resistance increased with increased dietary Spirulina levels in chickens (Qureshi et al., 1996; Al-Batshan et al., 2001). Qureshi et al. (1996) found improvement of the health of the chicken with levels of Spirulina diet with low diet of 10 g / kg in the diet.

       Spirulina has been shown to be an effective means of changing the quality of the chicken product to meet consumer preferences. For example, the total cholesterol content of eggs may be reduced, including Spirulina in layered chicken feeds (Sujatha and 166 Narahari 2011). This is mainly due to the high content of antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 of Spirulina that enriches the nutritional value of the eggs at the expense of the cholesterol content (Rajesha et al., 2011; Sujatha and Narahari 2011). It has also been found that egg yolk color intensifies linearly with increased dietary levels of spirulina (Ross and Dominy 1990, Sujatha and Narahari 2011). In white hens of the Leghorn layer, dietary spirulina levels of 3-9% of the total ration were found in egg yolk colors best representative of consumer preferences (Saxena et al., 1983). Similar findings were found in Japanese quail trials (Ross et al., 1994). The effect of spirulina on yolk color results from its high content of zeaxanthins, xanthophylls and other carotenoid pigments, particularly p-carotene, that accumulate within the yolk (Anderson et al., 1991, Takashi, 2003). It has been found that these same compounds also accumulate in the muscle tissue of chickens. Both Toyomizu et al. (2001) and Venkataraman et al. (1994) reported this result with muscle tissue increasing in yellow and red with increased levels of Spirulina.


       Pig rations containing Spirulina have been associated with improved boar fertility. Granaci (2007a) found that boars who received a Spirulina extract had higher overall sperm quality than their non-supplemented counterparts in terms of sperm volume increase at 11% and post-storage motility and viability at 5%.


           The ability of ruminants to digest unprocessed algae material (Gouveia et al., 2008) makes them particularly suitable for the use of Spirulina in the diet. This is further complemented by efficient digestion of the Spirulina carbohydrate fraction by ruminants when used at levels up to 20% of the total feed intake compared to other algal feed types such as Chlorella or Scenedesmus obliquus (Gouveia et al., 2008 ). Spirulina has been shown to increase gross microbial protein production and reduce retention time from within the rumen (Quigley and Poppi 2009). In addition, approximately 20% of Spirulina in the diet outweigh the degradation of Romanian and therefore available for direct absorption in the abomasum (Quigley and Poppi 2009; 220 Panjaitan et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2010). When Spirulina is delivered to ruminants as a suspension of water, it has been found that they were consumed preferentially compared to pure water (Panjaitan et al., 2010). In addition, the high sodium content of Spirulina increases water consumption and urine excretion (Panjaitan et al., 2010) in ruminants, although this is generally typical of algae feeding types (Marin et al., 2009) .

Cattle milk

         The spirulina trials with dairy cows produced positive results with direct impact on productivity. Kulpys et al. (2009) found that cows receiving Spirulina diet showed a 21% increase in milk production. In addition, Simkus et al. (2007) showed an increase in milk fat (between 17.6% and 25.0%), milk protein (up to 9.7%) and lactose (up to 11.7%) in cows receiving Spirulina in compared to those who did not receive Spirulina. The saturated fatty acid content of the milk decreased and mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids increased when cows received Spirulina (Christaki et al., 2012). These results can be attributed to the influence of Spirulina on the synthesis of microbial protein, avoiding the degradation of the rumen and its composition with rich nutrients.

            Spirulina Dietetic was also associated with significant decreases in milk somatic cell counts (Simkus et al., 2007), thus improving the food safety value of milk. In addition, it was found that dairy cows receiving Spirulina improved body condition (8.5-11%) when compared to those who did not receive Spirulina (Kulpys et al., 243, 2009).

        As with pigs, the sperm quality of the bull was shown to be improved with Spirulina. Post-storage sperm motility, concentration and viability were positively affected when bulls received a bio-extract removed from Spirulina (Granaci 2007b).


        Bezerra et al. (2010) found that lambs that received Spirulina had higher live weights and average daily gains (ADG) than other lambs that did not receive Spirulina. Findings of Holman et al. (2012) also show an increase in live lamb weight with dietary Spirulina along with an increase in body condition and other body conformation traits. However, the variation in ADG did not reach statistical significance. This divergence between the two studies was mainly due to differences between lambs and Spirulina suspensions in the water used to deliver Spirulina. Limkiene et al. (2010) showed that pregnant ewes receiving Spirulina provided heavier lambs (4.07%) with higher ADG compared to pregnant ewes who did not receive Spirulina.

       The rabbits

           The quality of rabbit meat was shown to improve when rabbits received spirulina. For example, Meineri et al. (2009) and Peirette and Meineri (2011), both identified Spirulina in the diet as a causal factor for increasing the proportions of γ-linolenic (GLA) and n-6 ​​/ n-3 PUFAs in rabbit lipid levels. This supports the continuation of the consumer's preferred color and appearance by improving the oxidative stability of rabbit meat (Dalle Zotte and Szendro 2011). In addition, GLA has health benefits for humans (Howe et al., 2006), and their increase in the level of rabbit meat attracts health conscious consumers. Rabbit health was also found to improve with dietary Spirulina, since rabbits receiving Spirulina had higher levels of oxyhemoglobin than those who did not receive Spirulina (Meineri et al., 2009).


          Spirulina is a promising new feed resource to support future animal production needs. The trials using dietary Spirulina in feed rations of many animal species important in agriculture have already shown improvements in productivity, health and product quality.

        Spirulina are a great resource as they can be grown without competing for arable land and food production.

Describe the problem your company wishes to solve and how your product or service will solve it

Add, enrich animal feed, fish and shrimp with multifucionales products, being spirulina produced by us the ideal to meet such demand.

Describe other business assistance that you are seeking from Nutreco

Globalize the use of spirula incorporating the same in all the products of Nutreco.

Are you available to participate in the final event in the Netherlands 28, 29, and 30 May? All expenses will be covered by Nutreco


Describe how the prize - a validation trial in our facilities - could boost the development of your business

By proving the functional and nutritional efficiency of spirulina developed by an exclusive and innovative biotechnology process achieved by us.

If you already have a website for your business, please share the URL

edited on Mar 19, 2018 by Francisco Martins

teresa debesa 4 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

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Gavin Boerboom 4 months ago

Hi Francisco,

Thank you for your submission! I was wondering if you have performed any tests yourself with novel ways of increasing production capacity or lowering production costs?

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Francisco Martins 4 months ago

OK . Thank you.
Yes, after 10 years of research we have developed a proprietary method of intensive spirulina production, which makes its production viable for the enrichment of species for fish, shrimp and other animals.

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David Peggs 4 months ago

Hi Francisco,
Thank you for the comprehensive submission.
Sounds like the product has much potential if it was possible to reduce the production costs and/or up scale production. I am interested in the antimicrobial properties of the product or associated cell components. You mention that the properties of the product has some antimicrobial activity of some potential fish pathogens. Have you carried out any tests to assess the products prebiotic effects on some beneficial bacteria within the animals? Also, have you tested the product for its potential as a bioremediation enhancer (e.g. added direction to shrimp ponds?)

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Francisco Martins 4 months ago

Several tests have been done here to prove the antimicrobial properties as well as their potential as a bioremediation enhancer. We have several producers of shrimp and tilapia in Brazil using our spirulina to enrich the races offered to them.

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Chris van Bussel 4 months ago

Hi Fransisco, thanks for your submission. I assume you still produce Spirulina on small scale, correct? I was wondering if you could share any thought on up-scaling the process. Both for production as for processing. Are you (planning) to team up with industry partners ?

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Francisco Martins 4 months ago

We are well advanced in large-scale production. Our intensive production method includes the whole process of production, filtration, drying and inclusion in races for fish and shrimp. As a parameter we are producing spirulina in circular tanks of 1 to 2 meters. of depth. The normal production of spirulina is achieved with retrangular tanks with a maximum of 0.40 cm of depth. We are also planning to join industry partners.

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teresa debesa 4 months ago

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone.

Reply 0

Amaete Umanah 4 months ago

Thank you for your submission! I have been looking into spirulina algae production for Nigeria to compete with regular commodities such as soy and fishmeal. How feasible will spirulina algae production be on a commercial scale?

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teresa debesa 4 months ago

Status label added: Full business case submitted

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