Seaweeds


Seaweed biorefinery

Development of a seaweed biorefinery

Seaweed biomass has great potential for becoming an important raw material in a biobased economy. There are several advantages to the use of seaweeds over terrestrial biomasses; they do not compete with food production for land or fresh water; they do not require costly fertilisers or pesticides; and they can even have an ecologically positive effect by removing excess nutrients from the marine environments. The high productivity and unique composition makes them a novel and suitable substrate for biorefining.

Within the biorefinery projects established at Industrial Biotechnology, a broad range of macroalgal species are being investigated for their chemical composition and the refining of valuable compounds. Depending on the project, we evaluate carbohydrates for conversion to biochemicals and biofuel, recovery of specific possible high-value products and substances that can serve as industrial precursors in chemical production. We also look at conversion of the entire biomass into biofuels without separating the seaweed into its components first.

Projects:

Seaweeds for a Biobased Society – Seafarm
Researchers: Joakim Olsson, Eric Malmhäll Bah, Eva Albers

The SEAFARM project aims at developing a sustainable system for the cultivation and use of seaweeds, proposing a renewable resource for a future biobased Swedish society. SEAFARM is a cross-disciplinary project including marine biologists, microbiologists, chemists, food scientists, engineers and economists from 5 Swedish universities and 13 collaborating partners from industry and authorities from three coastal regions in Sweden.

Alternative biomasses as raw material for biorefinery concepts
Researchers: Joakim Olsson, Eva Albers

Liquid biofuels in Sweden are currently made mainly using rapeseed, wheat, barley and left-over wine as raw materials. All of these resources are from traditional agriculture and require land, fertilizers, freshwater and are effectively food crops. In this project we are exploring alternative biomasses originating from the sea, which do not share these drawbacks and has a potential for biofuel production.

Seaweed production systems with high-value applications - Sweaweed
Researchers: Venkat rao Konasani, Eric Malmhäll Bah, Eva Albers

The overall aim of the Sweaweed project is to develop and culture novel strains for the cultivation of valuable red and green seaweeds in Sweden, and to develop sustainable techniques for extraction of high value compounds from the resulting biomass. At the division of Industrial Biotechnology we focus on bioprospecting of marine enzymes, assisting the disintegration and biorefining of seaweed biomass, and developing extraction processes for recovery of fine chemicals.


Seaweed preservation

In a sustainable future, there should be biorefineries providing all chemicals, fuels and materials we need in everyday life, but a biorefinery will be dependent on a steady supply of biomass to produce its products and to form a stable business. The kelp species Saccharina latissima and Laminaria digitata are of interest as biomass sources since they are cultivatable and are very common on the Swedish west coast. However, these kelp species usually vary in composition and size over the year while also degrading quickly if left untreated. This poses a huge problem for a potential seaweed industry utilizing these species. With this in mind we aim to identify suitable preservation methods for macroalgal biomass that preserves and permits long-term storage, while keeping the composition as unaffected as possible. This field is relatively novel with regards to marine biomass, but may be very important and needed for realization of a seaweed biorefinery.

Projects:

Seaweeds for a Biobased Society – Seafarm
Researchers: Joakim Olsson, Eric Malmhäll Bah, Eva Albers

Marine microbiology and biotechnology

Marine biomasses contain unique compounds that can have chemical structures that are distinct from terrestrial, plant-based materials. To enable efficient biotechnological conversion of such compounds in e.g. a biorefinery, novel enzymatic and microbiological tools are needed. In general, enzymes constitute sustainable and specific tools applicable to biorefinery processes. However, the available commercial enzyme preparations are not optimal for use on marine biomass. The situation is similar for microbial conversion of for instance algal carbohydrates; the microorganisms developed for land-based substrates do not possess full capacity to convert the carbohydrates of the marine biomass into biofuels or other products.
In this area, we are bioprospecting for novel enzymes and microorganisms with interesting metabolic capacities for biorefining of marine biomasses. In our search for interesting microorganisms, we isolate yeast, fungi and bacteria from different (marine) habitats. A better understanding of the bacterial and fungal flora, as well as their roles in natural habitats, is important for successful discoveries in this field. Isolated microbes are subsequently screened for conversion of marine substrates into valuable metabolites and those with desirable activities are thoroughly investigated regarding metabolite or enzyme production. The overall aim with our work in marine microbiology and biotechnology, is to build microbial and biotechnological platforms for the production of novel substances originating from the marine environment.

Projects:

Seaweeds for a Biobased Society – Seafarm

Researchers: Joakim Olsson, Eric Malmhäll Bah, Eva Albers

Seaweed production systems with high-value applications - Sweaweed

Researchers: Venkat rao Konasani, Eric Malmhäll Bah, Eva Albers

Published: Thu 09 Jul 2015. Modified: Thu 13 Oct 2016