Yemoja has built a patented controlled indoor growing system for producing high-value ingredients from wild strains of algae in photobioreactors (using LEDs as a light source) in Upper Galiliee. Owing to its modular design (the hermetically sealed columns are not connected), it is also ‘contamination-proof,’ claimed co-founder and CTO Dr Anikam Bar-gil.
“If one of [the contents of] these 728 columns get spoiled, which happens in biology, you just throw it away. You can’t do that if you’re growing algae outdoors in a huge pond. Yes, the sun is free, but it also creates a lot of heat, whereas we have the ability to completely control the environment and the temperature, pH and CO2 level.”
In general, he explained, the microalgae are exposed to extreme stress conditions such as high temperature, salinity changes, high osmotic pressure, UV radiation damages and other environmental stress conditions that prompt the algae to produce substances that could be used in everything from plant-based burgers to skincare products.
Yemoja's first product for the food industry is a whole-food bright red ingredient called Ounje from the red microalgae Porphyridium, which turns brown when it cooks, has a ‘blood-like’ texture and viscosity, an umami taste when heated, with 20-25% protein (in dry product form), 13-15% essential fatty acids, 30% fiber and a long shelf life that retains its stability and nutritional value through a variety of processes including hydration, cooking, freezing, and marination, claimed Bar-gil.
“Ounje has high concentrations of iron and vitamin B12. So microalgae doesn’t synthesize B12, it’s a strain of bacteria that can do that, and we treat the bacteria and the algae in a synergistic system so the bacteria synthesizes vitamin B12 and the algae synthesizes the protein.”