Cyanotech unveils new astaxanthin extraction system

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Cyanotech Corp. on Monday held a blessing for its new astaxanthin extraction system.


Cyanotech Corp. on Monday held a blessing for its new astaxanthin extraction system.

The custom-built, on-site Super Critical C02 Extraction Facility system will reduce production time and costs, as well as enable continued growth to meet astaxanthin demand, according to the company, which calls a 90-acre facility at Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority home. There are fewer than six such systems in the world.

The system, which features a 14,700 PSI supercritical carbon dioxide extraction system, will allow Cyanotech to extract astaxanthin from Haematococcus biomass without using organic solvents in a shorter time compared to lower pressure systems and result in higher yields. Built by Germany-based ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions, it also has double the capacity of the company’s current production to allow for sales growth, Cyanotech said. Further, it can be expanded to handle four times the current production needs.

Astaxanthin is produced from microalgae cultivated and grown at Cyanotech’s facility within the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. Post harvest, the company said the microalgae biomass historically was shipped to the mainland and New Zealand where the astaxanthin was extracted and readied for final product form before being shipped back to Hawaii. This process added up to several weeks to the production time, as well as significant costs.

With the extraction now being done locally, company officials estimate a monthly savings of $100,000, according to information provided by Cyanotech. The system has been in operation since June.

In addition to the savings, the company also added six new extraction operator jobs in Kona. Since 2012, Cyanotech has been expanding its microalgae production capabilities, creating new jobs in laboratory and research sciences, sales and marketing, finance, accounting, maintenance and logistics. In November 2012, the company had 80 employees. Today, it employs 120.


Cyanotech produces BioAstin Natural Astaxanthin and Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica from microalgae grown at its 90-acre facility in Kona using patented and proprietary technology.

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