PIPE DREAMS

ROQUETTE FAC­TORY, KLOTZE, GER­MANY

Focus-Science and Technology - - FUTURE FARMING -

In the 1300s, Aztec fish­er­men skimmed blue-green al­gae from Lake Tex­coco in Mex­ico and dried it to make cakes that they ate with corn or spicy sauces. To­day, mi­croal­gae des­tined for nu­tri­tional pow­ders and tablets are grown in tubu­lar aquar­i­ums watched over by white-coated work­ers. At the Roquette fac­tory in Ger­many, there are 500km of nar­row glass grow­ing tubes. These en­sure max­i­mum ex­po­sure to sun­light, en­abling the al­gae to grow faster than in the depths of a murky pond. Touted as su­per­foods, mi­croal­gae such as spir­ulina and Chlorella are densely packed with pro­tein, as well as com­pounds such as polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids and sterols, which guard against heart dis­ease and other conditions. This worker is sur­vey­ing tubes filled with Odon­tella au­rita, cul­ti­vated for its carotenoid con­tent – it makes fu­cox­an­thin, a pig­ment shown to kill can­cer cells in the test tube.

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