Kailua-Kona, HI— Cyanotech Corporation (parent company to Nutrex Hawaii) is soon bringing online a new supercritical CO2 extraction facility for the production of its BioAstin Natural Hawaiian Astaxanthin. The firm recently made a $3.2-million investment in an extremely specialized 1,000-bar extraction and concentration system that will be housed at its headquarters in Kailua-Kona, HI, where its spirulina and astaxanthin microalgae are grown and harvested. Combined with the housing and engineering, the addition is about a $6-million undertaking for the company.

“The system uses supercritical CO2,” says Gerald Cysewski, Ph.D., founder and chief scientific officer at Nutrex Hawaii. “The process uses no solvents like hexane, heptane, acetone or ethanol. It’s just CO2, compressed to a very high pressure.” The pressure exerted for astaxanthin extraction and concentration is a whopping 15,000 PSI.

The new equipment and facility will replace Nutrex Hawaii’s current arrangement of sending astaxanthin biomass to New Zealand or New Jersey for extracting and concentrating. Having the new facility in Hawaii will be a huge timesaver for the company. “Most CO2 astaxanthin extractions are run at between 450–600 bar, which requires extended extraction times and can have low product yields. The 1,000-bar system in Hawaii has the potential to produce high product yields in only two to three hours,” stated Cysewski. There are currently only six of these types of high-pressure systems in the world.

“We’re very excited about it. We’ll be able to cut down our lead time to produce the products, save money and get even more efficient extraction with our new high-pressure system,” said Cysewski.

The company hopes to have the new equipment up and running by summer 2015.


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2015, online 4/17/15