Many iGEM projects hope can eventually be put into practical production applications, especially for those of us who eventually want to reduce the cost of biodiesel production. It is definitely not enough to move from the theoretical basis in the laboratory to the actual production by just experiment, there are other factors involved such as economic benefits, production efficiency, social needs and so on. And there are many processes and difficulties that we do not understand. This meant that we needed to talk to a company that was actually in production. Through the efforts of our team members, we contacted Mr. Xie Jinjian, CEO of Fujian Shenliu Group. Fujian Shenliu Group is a Chinese health food GMP certified company, a technology-based industrial limited company specializing in the integration of spirulina farming, research and development, production and sales, awarded " Spirulina Project Unit of the United Nations South-South Cooperation Network Demonstration Base" by the United Nations organization. "United Nations Industrial Development Organization Base Spirulina Project Base" and other titles. After many days of online communication, he agreed for us to visit the company and exchange ideas.

Affirmation and support for the project

For Mr. Xie Jinjian, who is engaged in health care product development, biodiesel production using microalgae is a field he is not involved in, but it is also because of this that he showed a keen interest. He talked to us about the impact of climate change on us. He said, although the economy has developed, but in exchange for the price of the environment becomes unsuitable for human survival, "I can swim in small rivers and streams when I was a child, look at which river you dare to go down now. In the past, when I looked up at night, the sky was full of stars, but now when I look up, it's foggy and I can't see a few stars," he said. After learning about the project, he was moved by the fact that our project would eventually improve the environment. "The processing of oil from microalgae into biodiesel is very meaningful to improve environmental pollution, and the process fixes more carbon dioxide, so it's two birds with one stone, which helps to improve the environment," he said with a smile. This provides moral support for our project to proceed.

Unique insights

We have some concerns about putting the results of our experiments into production applications because we don't know much about actual economic production: we worry that the technology used in the lab will be too complex and the equipment too expensive, which will make entrepreneurs think that the process
requires a lot of unnecessary effort and reduce the enthusiasm of produce. He says that's not what we should be worried about; the point we should be looking at is exactly how much economic benefit can ultimately be improved. "Think about it, you getting your profits bulid on the tedious lab technology and expensive equipment. In other words, as long as your net profit can be improved compared to the existing production technology, or if the net profit is substantial, then companies are happy to practice it, because the net profit is a real and objective existence, and the technology is already taken into account when calculating the net profit". Of course, he also expressed his understanding to us, because many things have to be really practiced before a systematic system can be formed, and only when it is actually put into application can we have a complete understanding of production. Through his dialogue we were able to dispel our previous concerns and ensure that the project would have practical application.
Of course, this is an ideal situation, there are various factors in business production, just as society is complex and changing, "It is quite difficult to start a business from scratch as students, especially if it is a physical business, you are likely to get stuck in some approval process and you need to work for a long time to get through it, or other aspects, so it is more advisable to consider working with an existing business. So it's more advisable to consider working with an existing business," he said. He gave us a very simple example: after a survey and analysis to establish a new enterprise in a certain area, but found that the product can not be sold, a look at the public opinion survey found that people are actually very happy to use biodiesel, but why the opposite ending? The reason is that what people think is not necessarily the same as what they actually do, just like we all know that we should save electricity, but how many people will really implement this idea into their lives completely is a reason. Therefore, we do not need to worry about the problem of enterprise technology, but need to consider other factors such as the need to increase public education, improve scientific literacy and so on.


As the general manager of a nutritional health product company, he thinks we can try to enhance the nutrient content of microalgae. Because that would increase the uses of Brown Finger Algae Triangle. He told us, "If you can boost the nutrient content in it, then it has a wide range of uses, more by-products, and profits go up." This was a great inspiration to us - we could target not just cost reduction as a way to boost oil and grease, but also to boost the content of microalgae by-products and increase its own value. He also told us that although microalgae have been used to develop nutritional supplements for a long time, they are mainly concentrated in Spirulina and Chlorella, and there are few examples of extracting nutrients from brown finger algae to develop nutritional supplements, and the related reports at home and abroad are mainly focused on the theoretical level in the laboratory, and there are almost no examples of commercializing them, so this can be considered a market gap. Inspired by Mr. Xie Jinjian, we have tried to enhance the content of rockweed flavin in our subsequent experimental projects, and the results are excellent. This means that we have improved its access and utilization, and indirectly reduced the cost for biodiesel production from microalgae.
With Mr. Jinjian Xie's permission, we salvaged some spirulina from the runway pond and brought it back to the lab for subsequent related experiments, comparative studies, etc. Mr. Xie Jinjian valued our project and was willing to enter into a partnership with us, hoping that we can promote each other for mutual benefit in the future time.
We enhance fucoxanthin content at the metabolic level and at the genetic level.
At the metabolic level, we consider the influence of various factors.Based on the fact that microalgae have the properties of plants and produce fucoxanthin are ultimately used in the food sector.We chose to use a plant endogenous substance, namely ascorbic acid, for external addition.This was then tried by Shen Liu and found to be efficient and economical with a lifting effect similar to our experimental results, offering the possibility of future expansion of the industry by Shen Liu in Fujian Province, China. Today this technology is still in the safety validation phase.
At the genetic level, we originally intended to enhance the oil content by constructing an engineered algae strain, and unexpectedly found that the fucoxanthin content of the UGP engineered algae strain was also significantly enhanced.We then provided the algae strain to the company for further validation and got similar results. However, GM foods are not legally produced in most countries and regions of the world, so this technology can be used as a technology reserve to be useful in the future when the opportunity arises.And this provides a reference for the laboratory to cultivate Phaeodactylum tricornutum to enhance the fucoxanthin content. This technology is also in the safety validation stage.

All in all, this communication with Fujian Shenliu Group has facilitated the progress of the project and we have received Mr. Jinjian Xie's affirmation. Also we are very grateful to him for providing the experimental ideas and leading us to understand the relevant culture of the company, which is of great significance for us to put the lab results into practical production applications.

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