College of Engineering

Astaxanthin Production (Feed Supplement in Salmon Farming)

Haematococcus pluvials is one of the largest algae producers of astaxanthin, a carotenoid that is commonly used as a feed supplement in the salmon farming industry to give the salmon their pinkish hue. It has already been established [ ] that extreme light conditions yield a higher production of astaxanthin in H. pluvials; however, exact light to dark time periods are unknown. The goal of this project was to determine the proper lighting conditions for optimum astaxanthin production by H. pluvialis so a pilot scale plant for massive production could be constructed. Two students, one from biology and one from chemical engineering work during one year with two professors (one from biology and one from chemical engineering). The students grow H. pluvialis in an environmental chamber at different light dark cycles (16/8, 20/4, 24/0) and constant temperature (26oC), to determine the best light to dark ratio growth for maximum astaxanthin production. Chlorophyll, ash-dry biomass, and cell count were obtained daily for each of the growth conditions to establish the optimum growth curves for H. pluvialis. Correlations between growth and astaxanthin production are been studied, and a pilot growth chamber for H. pluvials at large scale will be designed, and tested. The final design is intended to be used by Chilean salmon farmers for large-scale algae growth.