Skip to main content

Article Category


Article available in the folowing languages:

The Alga processing Center opens

Although the facilities of the Alga Processing Center in the town of Grandcamp-Maisy (Calvados departement) are not quite finished, they were inaugurated last March. The objective of SFAN Laboratory, a company based in the Orne, is to devise a range of natural products from algae and different alga extracts, for use as plant material.,

The solution will help the small fishing port to solve - at least partially - the problem of the algae that sometimes litter the beaches. The first alga delivery is expected at the Center before summer. Grandcamp-Maisy, a small fishing port a few kilometers from the famous Pointe du Hoc, a D-Day (June 6, 1944) landmark, turns into a seaside resort with the warm weather. The town nestles between two small natural creeks where algae wash up onto the shores. "90% of the algae that we harvest here are laminar (or flat) algae or alga fucus," explained Eric Ebstein, SFAN Laboratory Project Manager. In other words, they are dealing with very common brown seaweed such as kelp. Until now, Isimer collected the algae and handled alga processing in a facility at Isigny. However, about three years ago SFAN Laboratory decided to take over the business and take it a step further, explaining why it built the Alga Processing Center at Grandcamp-Maisy. The Foliar Biostimulant Market First,Once the algae are collected and delivered to the Center, they undergo a simple procedure. They are sorted, cut into small, two-centimeter wide bits in a chopper. However, the algae are not crushed lest all the juice that SFAN Laboratory plans to exploit is extracted. If the amount delivered is too great or if other towns want to process their algae, the product is stored in a seawater-filled holding pool. Once the algae are chopped into small pieces, they are mixed in a kind of concrete mixer and stored in sixteen silos where they macerate for five weeks. The alga juice is then extracted and preserved in other tanks. "The process is very similar to winemaking," pointed out Eric Ebstein, who explained that a natural thyme-based preservative had been used for the process up to now. However, since results were not satisfactory, the company asked CEVA to conduct studies, which led to the development of a solution (certification pending). Until now, the company sold the juice extracted from alga maceration mainly to the Germans who have always been big users of foliar inputs. "At first, we planned to capture positions on this market where we have to catch up with the chemical industry that is today's market leader," said the Project Manager. The non fermentable mash is pressed in a screw press to produce a product used for potting soil. The facility also has a laboratory that will be taking all the measurements required for product quality and traceability. "At the same time, we will be studying all the opportunities for using algae as additives in animal feed. We still have to determine whether we'll have enough raw material to meet demand," underscored Eric Ebstein. The company is already looking at a third outlet, i.e. cosmetics. However, setting up a pharmaceutical laboratory is not in the cards. The company would use powdered algae or another form of algae to manufacture soaps. A Win-Win Project ,Roughly 1 million were needed to set up the Center that has set a goal of generating a dozen jobs in the region, eventually. "This is a real win-win project," explained Eric Ebstein. For many towns today algae are a big problem. Once they are collected, they are often dumped in the fields, which is forbidden. So it is critical to have an Alga Processing Center that designs quality products for special markets and gets rid of a town's algae. Consequently, the Grandcamp-Maisy municipality did not think twice about investing in the project for which it received different European aid packages. Cebanor, another prime project mover, is mainly in charge of coordination and communication. "The Alga-Processing Center is a good example of the kind of cooperation that can be developed between a town and a private company," concluded Eric Ebstein.Contact:,SFAN - Eric EBSTEIN, Project manager,Phone: +33 (0) - Fax: +33 (0),E-mail : Source : ScienceTech Basse-Normandie newsletter,