This interview details Lgem, a company based in the Netherlands. The interview is with Sander Hazewinkel, CCO of Lgem.
The idea Lgem started in 2004 when there was a project (Biowaterstof Biohydrogen) in which my father (Obbo Hazewinkel) and Rene Wijffels participated in producing hydrogen with a phototrophic bacteria (Rhodobacter).
Halfway through the project, Rene and Obbo concluded that making hydrogen via a phototrophic bacteria was a bit farfetched. Still, the technologies involved could be groundbreaking for the production of algae. This idea sparked the start of the then-idea Lgem. At the formal start of the company in 2006, the team had grown to four people (Obbo Hazewinkel, Rene Wijffels, Eugene Roebroeck and Sander Hazewinkel).
We embarked on developing the “The Green Solar Collector” technology. Soon after the start of the company, we concluded that the development of the Green Solar Collector was too expensive and would take too much time to market. Another conclusion was that nobody was interested in buying algae PBR technology then. All the active pioneers had their inventions for growing algae, ranging from big tanks and ponds to small tubes, flat plates, spirals, helices, plastics, glass, open systems and closed systems. So we decided to cooperate with Technogrow, which had a somewhat functional system using PE-sleeves to make up a tubular pbr system. We also agreed that to move forward, we needed income. Since we now had working systems and nobody wanted to buy technology, we started to sell biomass to the USA under the name Marine Phytoplankton. The biomass sales were a successful move because they sustained the company and allowed us, as growers, to work on the effectiveness and reliability of the systems.
With many increments and trial and error! In 2009, GF-piping systems approached us, and we built our first tubular system. with rigid piping. The Lgem Gemtube MK1-750 system was our first commercial system, and the design and integrated process still form the basis for all our designs. This system is the Lgem Pilot-925, which, because we now solely use Schott glass, has a different volume and name. In 2020, Lgem and Synalgae merged, allowing for an upgrade and expansion of the portfolio, now ranging from 5 litres to 45.000 litres. We are now safe to say that we have recognized industrial-grade systems with a long and successful track record.
There are several big challenges that Lgem will face in the future. Of course, the biggest of all is if the growth of the algae market will meet expectations. It is nice to have systems capable of delivering high-quality biomass at an Industrial scale, but there needs to be a market for the products these systems produce. Signs are very positive, but some threats lurk around the corner. The major threats are consumer acceptance of algae(derived) products, legal hurdles like novel food legislation, and the further development of new algae products to create a diverse applications market.
What is unique about Lgem is the stability and scalability of our systems and our patented two-phase process that allows our systems to be the reliable production platform for all microalgae, fragile and resilient alike. But the services that we offer are also unique. At our facility, we have the AlgaeHub, where we allow our customers to test their business plans and improve their processes at an industrial scale before investing in their production. This way, customers can effectively de-risk their investment in a try-before-you-buy situation. With our network and years of experience, we actively help customers build strong business collaborations for a successful future.
Since 2020, our team has expanded to 20 people with a more than triple turnover.
To use and develop our platform technology and become the standard for autotrophic and mixotrophic cultivation of microalgae to speed up the potential of microalgae. To achieve this We build vertical demand and supply columns centralized around autotrophic and mixtrophic algae cultivated in Lgem PBR systems, with Lgem optimized protocols and extra service.
These columns contribute to a fast implementation of algae for a sustainable and self-sufficient world with high-impact food, feed, pharma and biochemical algae-driven solutions.
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