Microalgae for food and feed

Microalgae are photosynthetic microorganisms which have significant potential as nutrient sources for food and feed, with high nutrient content and large variations between species.

CHlorella PBR 1 CG-cropped
Photo: Camilla Gitz

Microalgae can contain large amounts of nutrients, such as:

  • proteins
  • unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
  • antioxidants
  • pigments
  • vitamins 
  • minerals
Photo: Erling Fløistad

The advantages of food/ feed production from microalgae are:

  • no need for arable land, production systems can be placed anywhere on land or sea surface
  • large productivity per surface area
  • low water consumption
  • no need for freshwater when cultivating marine species
  • possibility for year-round production with artificial light
  • some species can grow fast at very low temperatures down to 0⁰C

Another advantage with production of microalgae as a nutrient source, is that the nutrient content can be manipulated using cultivation conditions. Small changes in conditions such as light intensity, light quality, temperature, salinity, medium composition, CO2 and nutrient limitation, can have a significant effect on the algae biomass composition, and this can be used to produce algae biomass with composition targeting specific products.

Photo: Erling Fløistad

Specializing in microalgae cultivation technology and bioprocess development

At NIBIO, we are specializing in microalgae cultivation technology and bioprocess development, with a focus on the effects cultivation conditions have on the composition of microalgal biomass. Several of our current projects have emphasis on algae biomass targeting specific food and feed products.

Examples of such products are fermented beverage which require high content of starch and starch degrading enzymes, and feed for ruminants and chicken, which require high protein content with suitable amino acid profiles.

Photo: Erling Fløistad


The NIBIO microalgae cultivation facilities at Vollebekk in Ås, comprise of several cultivation systems designed to compare cultivation conditions and their effects on the biomass composition.

In our Multitron shaking incubator, a large number of cultures grown under different conditions can be compared. Our flat panel photobioreactors (PBRs) are designed to offer a high degree of control of light distribution, pH and temperature in addition to logging of multiple parameters.

At Vollebekk we also have facilities for upscaling cultivation processes to 25L and 250L volumes in tubular photobioreactors under controlled conditions.

Photo: Erling Fløistad