The Other Trans-Pecos Oil, and Employment Opportunities

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Qualitas Health algae farm brings new life to barren former farmland just west of the Pecos River, in Imperial, Texas. This cutting edge aquaculture facility is growing and putting Pecos County on the map for a different type of oil, omega-3 algae oil. It uses local groundwater that has become increasingly brackish over the last few generations. The site used to be a shrimp farm and before that a cotton farm, and Qualitas Health is now there producing algae as a feedstock for the widely used nutritional supplement.

Fish oil capsules are the most popular way to consume the purportedly heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Currently, the primary source of omega-3 oil is marine animals such as fish and krill, which obtain omega-3 from algae in their food chain. Qualitas Health is cutting to the chase by extracting omega-3 directly from algae.

Qualitas Health has developed a proprietary supplement called Almega PL. The company extracts oil from a natural and not genetically modified microalgae, Nannochloropsis oculata. The oil extracted from this species is naturally rich in EPA, a specific omega-3 fatty acid. After the algae grows and is processed, the farm ships algae slurry to an extraction facility that concentrates the omega-3 fatty acids for the Almega PL product.

The production process does not involve toxic solvents or harmful wastes. Co-products are used in animal feed and biofuels production.

Qualitas Health algae farm was established in Imperial because of its abundance of available land, sunlight and brackish water, all of which are needed for an inland marine algae farm. It is the largest facility of its type in the world. The company is investing tens of millions of dollars in the facility.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has filed a New Dietary Ingredient Notification for Alemaga PL, which allows the Imperial-birthed product to be used in dietary supplements in this country.

Qualitas Health has won two industry awards. One was the NEXTY Innovation Award at the 2014 Natural Products Expo West convention. The Natural Products Expo West is a leading convention for the U.S. health, organic and natural food, supplement and cosmetic industries. Qualitas also won the NutraIngredients Award for Start-Up Ingredient of the Year at the 2015 Vitafoods convention in Geneva, Switzerland. Vitafoods is one of the most important conventions for the health/nutrition industry in Europe and globally. Qualitas markets its product internationally, such as in Australia, Japan, Mayalsia, India and Brazil.

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Qualitas Health algae farm has numerous algae ponds on non-arable land near Imperial, Texas, and uses brackish groundwater. The company has immediate plans to expand its production there. (Staff photo/Jeremy Gonzalez)

While all of its algae operations are here in Imperial (population 428), Qualitas Health headquarters is in the tech-savvy “start-up nation” of Israel. That country’s business community has a reputation for entrepreneurialism based on advanced technologies, especially in hi-tech and biotech, including “nutraceuticals.”

The founder and chief technology officer of Qualitas Health is Dr. Issac Berzin. In 2008 he was named in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for his work on algae and sustainable energy.

The newest addition to the Qualitas Health algae farm management team is Rebecca L. White, who is tasked with expanding the algae operations in Imperial. She is Qualitas Health’s vice president for algae production operations and its Texas site manager.

White is hands-on at the farm and can be spotted pulling up to the multiple algae ponds in an off-road 4×4 wearing lab glasses. Her office is filled with books on algae, and her heart is set on taking this West Texas farm to the next level. A Texas native with a Ph.D. in microbiology from Texas A&M University, she is a world-class algae researcher and an algae industry professional. She collaborates with fellow experts in algae science, biotechnology, aquaculture, food and industrial processing and health industry business.

Qualitas Health algae farm is hiring. It has hired 14 people in the last six months and is looking to fill maintenance technician and lab personnel positions. For employment opportunities visit Qualitas-Health.com/careers or send an email to careers@qualitas-health.com.

Photo: Rebecca White is the newest addition to the Qualitas Health algae farm management team. She is a Texas native, world-class algae researcher and algae industry professional who has returned to her home state to further Qualitas Health’s environment friendly algae operations. (Staff photo/Jeremy Gonzalez)

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