[Lexington, KY] – Alltech, a global leader in natural animal nutrition, has concluded its first annual International Algae Conference, Algae: The Growth Platform. Held February 22-24 in Lexington, Kentucky, the invitation-only event drew 60 attendees from as far away as Australia and Europe.

“This conference is important to the region, to the state, and to the future of science. What science needs is a ‘game changer’ and algae are going to be that ‘game changer’,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech.

Conference presentations from several of Alltech’s leading researchers were focused on the characteristics and potential uses of algae. There are roughly 800,000 species of algae, which vary greatly in form, function and chemical composition.

Algae can be used in animal feed, food supplements, pharmaceuticals, bioremediation and biofuels. Several of these industries were represented among the international audience and lively group discussions were inspired by the specific challenges and opportunities for algae production in agriculture, environmental and renewable energy applications.  

The attendees also had the opportunity to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Alltech Algae facility in Winchester, Kentucky, and later be one of the first groups to tour this plant, Alltech’s largest production facility. The highly-automated plant contains more than $200 million of equipment, but the most important feature of the plant is the pilot plant, a scaled-down replica of the large production system that will allow Alltech to research and perfect production methods before rolling them out on a large scale. The plant contains fermentors that stand over 8 stories high and have a capacity of 265,000 liters.

Algae are very efficient at producing nutrients that can be used by higher animals. Like plants, they capture energy, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and other minerals from their environment and create organic molecules like proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

One acre of Chlorella algae can produce as much protein as 21 acres of soybeans; 49 acres of corn; 95 acres of wheat; or 994 acres of barley. With a growing population to feed, algae are expected to become an increasingly important source of protein for animal feeds and human food supplements.