Spirulina is grown in open ponds containing a mixture of fresh water and mineral-rich sea water pumped from a depth of 2,000 feet. It is fed with food-grade baking soda and carbon dioxide (Cyanotech is the second largest user of C02 in Hawaii after Coca-Cola).
After the biomass is removed, the pond water is returned to the growing ponds for the next growing cycle, says chief science officer Gerry Cysewski.
“We recycle 100% of the media back.”
Producing spirulina - a powdered blue/green superfood packed with iron, beta-carotene, protein, vitamins and carotenoids - is not as difficult as making astaxanthin, although a lot of product coming out of China is of poor quality or contains high levels of excipients, he claims.
“Our spirulina tablets have only 1.5% excipient whereas some other products on the market have up to 10 times this amount.”
Unlike many other spirulina farms, which typically shut down for a few months a year due to weather that is either too hot in the tropics or too cold in temperate regions, Cyanotech benefits from low rainfall and consistent sunlight enabling it to operate for 12 months a year, he adds.
Cyanotech has also developed a patented low-oxygen spray-drying system called Ocean Chill Drying, which allows Spirulina Pacifica to be dried in an environment that preserves high nutrient and enzyme concentrations by preventing oxidative damage (standard dryers can cause carotenes and fatty acids to oxidise).
Once dried, oxygen absorbers are enclosed with it in heat-sealed, metal-lined drums.