Algal oil to help healthy diets

July 20, 2012

Algal oils are a sustainable solution to solve future resource problems, according to Roger Huerlimann, a PhD student at James Cook University in Townsville.

Mr Huerlimann said microalgae, tiny related to plants, use light and the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to produce oils similar to from plants.

“Two of the major problems in future will be the shortage of food and fuel,” he said.

“Microalgae have the potential to solve these two problems and more. Everyone going grocery shopping sees products claiming to be high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in our diet since they cannot be produced by human or other animals, and need to be supplied through our diet.

“There is also evidence that some of them even reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory responses, as well as increasing brain function."

Mr Huerlimann said could produce omega-3 fatty acids only to a certain degree, but historically, the main source for the most useful omega-3 fatty acids were oily fish, which, he said, have become unsustainable due to overfishing.

“However, the original producers of these omega-3 fatty acids are actually microalgae and they excel at this task,” he said.

“These omega-3 oil-rich microalgae are at the bottom of the food chain and their oils are accumulated within the food web. Furthermore, the algal oils can be turned into biodiesel for cars and heavy machinery, as well as bio-kerosene for airplanes. This would provide the world with a clean, sustainable source of fuels.

“Nature has given microalgae incredibly effective ‘tools’ in the form of enzymes to produce a high variety of valuable oils. My genetic work will make it possible to select specific microalgae which are suitable for the production of either biofuels or omega-3 fatty acids, among other possible applications.”

The research will help in the search for more productive strains of algae, which produce the and that are required for each individual application.

Mr Huerlimann is part of a larger research team at JCU, led by Associate Professor Kirsten Heimann. The team explores cultivation of microalgae for the capture of carbon dioxide, a known responsible for global warming.

The microalgal biomass produced will then be used for generating value-adding products. This research is in partnership with MBD Energy, DEEDI Queensland and the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.

Explore further: Fatty fish protects against prostate cancer

Related Stories

Fatty fish protects against prostate cancer

October 31, 2006

Men who eat a lot of fatty fish run a lower risk of prostate cancer, concludes a new research paper from Karolinska Institutet (Sweden). The effect is likely to be attributable to the abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, although ...

Grains and lamb offer new sources of omega-3

September 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- CSIRO research on grains and lamb aimed at developing new dietary sources of long-chain omega-3 oils will be presented at the World Congress on Oils and Fats in Sydney this week.

Recommended for you

Bacteria in smokeless tobacco products may be a health concern

August 26, 2016

Several species of bacteria found in smokeless tobacco products have been associated with opportunistic infections, according to a paper published August 26 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American ...

Is tailgating toxic?

August 26, 2016

While tailgating this football season you may want to take a step back from the grill and generator—for your health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.