A TECHNOLOGY firm is working on a project to take high-value chemicals from plants.

TeeGene Biotech is looking at the use of microalgae in industrial waste water treatment, as well as their potential as a chemical ingredient.

The firm, based at the Wilton Centre, near Redcar, is carrying out the work after being given an innovation grant by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and has also been backed by the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant to carry out tests.

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BBSRC is the largest UK public funder of non-medical bioscience and invests in bioscience research and training.

Dr Pattanathu Rahman, TeeGene director, said: “Microalgae are a promising source of biofuel and high-value chemicals.

“However, there are major technological challenges limiting the extent microalgae can be used in this way.

“The funding will enable us to explore them further and try to overcome any obstacles.”

Last year, The Northern Echo reported how Teegene, a Teesside University spin out company, was aiming to turn back the clock through pioneering work on anti-ageing treatment, which could give it a slice of a potential £1.4bn market.

Mr Rahman said it was researching ways of developing a product for the cosmetic industry, through environmentally-friendly bio-surfactants.

Bio-surfactants lower surface tension between liquids, allowing products to be spread more easily, making them perfect for skincare products and creams, as well as paints and food, such as mayonnaise and margarine.

Mr Rahman added: “The predicted value for bio-surfactant market is £1.4bn by 2030, and we are looking to widen the variety of known bio-surfactants and bring them to market.”