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Astaxanthin and district heat from algae cultivation

Astaxanthin and district heat from algae cultivation
Peter Worsöe (left) CEO of AstaReal and Kurosh Beradari, Sales and Marketing Director at Vattenfall Heat (photo courtesy Vattenfall).

In Sweden, excess heat from algae cultivation is now being used for district heating for up to 2 500 apartments in Gustavsberg, outside of Stockholm thanks to an innovative heat recovery installation.

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AstaReal AB, part of the AstaReal Group, which is owned by Japan’s Fuji Chemical Industries, is the first company in the world to produce natural astaxanthin successfully on a large scale from algae grown in bioreactors.

Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring red pigment that belongs to a group of chemicals called carotenoids and this phytonutrient is used as a nutritional supplement for both humans and animals in Sweden as well as globally.

Production of natural astaxanthin takes place through the cultivation of algae in unique indoor photobioreactors. It’s therefore important for us to use electricity and cooling as efficiently as possible, said Peter Worsöe, CEO of AstaReal.

In October 2021, AstaReal and Vattenfall Heat, part of energy utility major Vattenfall signed an agreement for a specially adapted facility for heat recovery installation at AstaReal’s production facility in Gustavsberg.

Vattenfall’s innovative installation uses waste heat from AstaReal’s production process, which would otherwise be lost.

AstaReal’s production process is energy-intensive and requires both electricity and cooling. The excess heat is now being used for heating homes and premises, and Gustavsberg’s residents now get more than 20 percent of their heating needs from the new technology, said Kurosh Beradari, Sales and Marketing Director at Vattenfall Heat in Sweden.

Algae cultivation is now heating up to 2 500 apartments in Gustavsberg. The new solution makes it possible to efficiently recover excess heat from the production process, which means that more than 15 GWh per year will be recovered and reused in the local district heating network in Gustavsberg.

The technical solution is now in place, and we’ll continue to be responsible for operations and administration in the future. We’re proud of our collaboration with AstaReal, who pioneered heat recovery, a groundbreaking solution that will benefit both their business and the local area, said Lars Blomberg, responsible for industrial customers at Vattenfall Network Solutions.

Vattenfall and AstaReal have a comprehensive partnership for AstaReal’s energy solutions.

In addition to the heat recovery facility, Vattenfall owns and manages high-voltage facilities such as transformers and switchgears, and supplies AstaReal with climate-neutral electricity.

The plant has also been upgraded with a new, significantly more climate-friendly refrigerant (R1234ze(E)) than in previous solutions.

Our extended partnership with Vattenfall fully aligns with our ambition to grow the algae as sustainably as possible and to be a positive force in society with a circular business. We’re really happy that the Excess Heat Recovery Project is now up and running, ended Peter Worsöe.

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