Source: eKapija | Friday, 16.03.2018.| 12:17
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(AUREA 2018 AWARD NOMINATION): Algo Tehnology – Products based on brown sea algae extract

The Topola-based company Algo Tehnology has mastered the technological process of extracting brown sea algae (Ascophillum nodosum) without the use of large amounts energy or expensive chemical processes.

An ecological process of extraction at the base, which differs from known procedures used in the world, has resulted in the manufacture of products which have been implemented in agriculture as biostimulants and fermentors, as well as in ecology as fermentors for improving the quality of waters and landfill treatment, and a fire extinguishing product. With their innovative solutions, they’ve managed to simplify the entire procedure and make it less expensive, making them 30-40% more competitive regarding the price of the final products compared to other producers.

The technology was being developed for several years. The company was officially founded in 2016, whereas 2017 was their first year in the market.

The capacities of the facility in Pranjani near Cacak are 5 tons an hour. Last year, products worth EUR 200,000 were sold in the Serbian market, whereas, in 2018, Algo Tehnology expects to at least double the result. Smaller amounts were made available as samples in Macedonia, Bulgaria, China, Russia and Iran.

In January 2018, a company opened in Macedonia as well, and the export of China was contracted and should start by May.

Around EUR 1.2 million has been invested in research, production and the Development Lab, and the company expects the investment to pay off in 5-6 years.

INNOVATION

(Photo: ESB Professional/shutterstock.com)
Brown sea algae are found in oceans in the places where warm and cold sea currents meet. They are present along the entirety of the Gulf Stream, but also around New Zealand and Australia and they can’t be produced under artificial conditions. Algo Tehnology imports them from Ireland and Norway, from direct producers.

These algae have a very wide range of implementation, and the sources are nearly inexhaustible. They are used in the cosmetics industry, pharmacy, agriculture, food industry, but the extraction process is very complex. In the world, non-organic solvents are used primarily, with benzene being used most frequently. However, these solvents are extremely cancerous, and the products are consequently too expensive, as the process of extracting non-organic solvents themselves after the extraction process costs a lot.

The advantage of the production process developed by Algo Tehnology is the lack of any kind of contamination that might need to be addressed from the start. The principle of extraction is fundamentally ecological and is carried out by implementation of various frequency waves, without thermal processing, thereby maintain the composition of the raw material entirely, that is keeping all the active and nutritious matters of brown sea algae.

The extraction process is the result of several years of research (since 2010), developed from the initial interest of one of the founders of Algo Tehnology in the extraction of aromatic medicinal herbs. The technology was fully developed by the two founders of the company, whereas the other two partners in the project financed the investment. As this is a new technology, they also prepared the design for the equipment needed for the production, and Serbian companies, producers in the milk and meat industry, were commissioned to make the equipment.

The production line is located in a facility in Pranjani near Cacak, works under controlled conditions and is 90% automatized, reducing the need for workforce and avoiding the human factor.

Although products based on brown sea algae have a wide variety of applications in the world, they have primarily chosen to implement them in agriculture, on all cultures – fruit, vegetables and field crops. Products such as natural biostimulators made through the extraction of sea algae didn’t exist in the Serbian market before and they are therefore not regulated by Regulations on Fertilizers, forcing Algo Tehnology to prove the value of the product through experiments carried out at the Institute of Soil Science and the Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops. The process of registration was completed in September 2016, the production and the Development Lab started being set up in October, whereas 2017 was their first year in the market.

They have 5 products in their production line so far: 3 in agriculture and 2 in ecology, which is the second most important field of implementation they are mastering. The active matter in brown sea algae, when it comes to agriculture, are polysaccharides, which benefit microbiology, as well as non-pathogenic bacteria. Biostimulators AlgoAlfa, AlgoFagus and AlgoPsan are implemented on plants of all kinds (flowers, fruit, vegetables...), depending on the vegetative development stage. They are fully natural, feature no side effects and considerably increase defense mechanisms of plants. Algo Composter is a product meant to be implemented in farms to treat manure pits and septic tanks, whereas Algo Preor is used to accelerate and stabilize the process of fermentation of harvest leftovers.

In 2017, numerous experiments of implementation of these fermentors in ecology were carried out – for improving the quality of waters and landfill treatment, and also as fire extinguishing products, but the lack of laws and regulations prevents a wider implementation of such products in many segments. A part of these experiments was carried out in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency of the Ministry of Ecology, which is familiar with the company’s activities and which has given them positive signals.

According to Algo Tehnology’s findings, products based on brown sea algae are not used anywhere in the world in the domain of ecology, which means that regulating the field is extremely important for obtaining adequate references for entering the global market, in which they have no competition for the time being.

SOCIAL USEFULNESS

The procedure of extraction of brown sea algae developed by Algo Tehnology has resulted in a better quality extract, as the procedure itself is carried out without the use of large amounts of energy and expensive chemical processes, while keeping all the active and nutritious matters.

Products made through the extraction of brown sea algae are natural biostimulators, which activate enzyme processes in the plant, improve photosynthesis and enable plants to overcome biotic (viruses, insects, various plant diseases) and abiotic stress (hail, frost, UV radiation, sunburn, drought). Natural balance between micro and macro elements, natural hormones and large amounts of polysaccharides present in the algae enable a high efficiency of the product, with the results visible in the matter of days. Regular use helps build up the plant’s natural immunity, and the products can be used in organic and traditional production, as well as on all cultures.

Some of the results, for example, show that last year’s implementation in orchards, during an extremely cold season, prevented the frosting in plant even at temperatures of -5 degrees Celsius. Also, the wheat frozen during January 2017 was recovered after only two weeks of being treated with products based on brown sea algae.

Their implementation also reduces the need for pesticides and protective products. In conventional apple orchards, which are treated around 30 times a year, the implementation of Algo Tehnology products helped reduce the number to 10-12. This also allows agriculturists to make numerous savings, keeping in mind that a reduced implementation of pesticides makes the production less expensive. Products based on this algae are in line with the zero-zero technology of fruit and vegetable production.

The use of fermentors in agriculture enables the treatment of manure pits by accelerating the decomposition and neutralizing the unpleasant smell, as well as by preparing the manure for being applied to the soil as an organic fertilizer, providing plats with easily accessible elements.

Ecology, treatment of open waterways and canals by improving water quality, reduction of organic sludge on the bottom and increasing other necessary quantities in irrigation canals, drainage canals, lakes, closed waterways and urban fecal water treatment facilities, where they reduce the presence of bioactive sludge as a byproduct, are just some of the fields of implementation of fermentors based on brown sea algae.

Last year, an experiment was carried out in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency (Ministry of Ecology) on drainage canals in Kotez, which had deteriorated due to fecal waters disposal. External control performed a check and it was officially confirmed that the usage of these products drastically reduces the unpleasant smell within 2-3 days and improves water quality.

The product has been tested in landfills as well, decomposing organic matter disposed there and reducing the unpleasant smell of ammonia. During last year’s fire at the Vinca landfill, they decided to test its use as a fire extinguishing product, as their findings had told them the product could be used for the purpose. To clarify, algae have the ability to bond oxygen, ammonia, but also methane, mercaptan (highly flammable) to their surface, thereby diluting the gases to the point where they lose the ability to reignite the fire and cause the unpleasant smell, and the fire was put out in four days.

As an extinguisher, the fermentor was also used in forest fires. After the fire is put out, the product becomes a fertilizer for forest plants. In landfills, it helps in decomposition, as the product reacts with the bacteria, influencing their decomposition, especially the decomposition of pathogenic bacteria.

FINANCIAL POTENTIAL

(Photo: Tony Stock/shutterstock.com)
The products of Algo Tehnology based on brown sea algae are characterized by the low cost of implementation, as well as quick and sustainable effects guaranteed by the ecological profile of the technology. In Europe, there are 7 more producers with a similar program, though their products are considerably more expensive, which is one of the signs pointing to their method of extraction. With their innovative solutions, Algo Tehnology has managed to simplify and make less expensive the procedure of extraction, making the price of the final products 30-40% more competitive than other producers.

The project displays great competitiveness compared to conventional approaches to the said problems. Furthermore, in many segments that Algo Tehnology has mastered, there used to be no practical solutions (manure pit treatment, irrigation canal treatment...).

The year 2017 was the company’s first year in the market. Production worth EUR 200,000 was realized, whereas, this year, they plan to realize 500,000 to 700,000 euros in the Serbian market.

As fertilizers, biostimulators based on brown sea algae have been implemented in agriculture as well – in orchards, cultivation of melons, apples, grapes, but also in pepper plantations and the production of tobacco. Fermentors have been implemented in ecology in manure pits on pig and cow farms of the leading agricultural producers, such as PKB, IM Matijevic, and in the treatment of septic tanks (around 85% of municipal waters in Serbia are on the level of septic tanks).

The products are sold in agricultural pharmacies, through direct distribution, through associations, and among other things, they cooperate with the Cluster of Organic Producers of Vojvodina, which brings together more than 500 members.

In 2017, they had prominent presentations at international fairs, with smaller, sample-size amount exported to Macedonia, Bulgaria, China, Russia and Iran.

In January 2018, they opened a company in Macedonia, where pre-contracts have already be signed with tobacco producers and vineyards.

Last year, they performed an experiment close to Shanghai, where yields are low due to a high Ph value of the soil. After the Algo Tehnology products were applied, results improved 2.5 times. An agreement was subsequently signed with the Chinese company Dafeng harbor, and the export should start by May (around 20 tons a day).

The company also had a prominent presentation at the investment forum in Xian in 2017, which opened doors for them to take part in environmental projects in China, such as the New City Concept Xian – new models of the cities of the future, with sustainable ecology, energy and food production.

So far, Algo Tehnology has invested around EUR 1.2 million of their own funds for the development and the production of products based on brown sea algae extract, and the company expects the investment to pay off in 5-6 years.

They have fully mastered the extraction technology, and the possibilities of implementation are still enormous, opening new perspectives for the company’s development. They also have their own Development Lab, where analyses and research are performed constantly. The company currently has 6 employees and occasionally hires just as many.

If the products based on brown sea algae extract are your investment of the year favorite, you can vote for them on the official website of the Aurea award.

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