In a first step we cultivate seaweed in chosen growth media in tanks on land. Then, in contrast to cultivating in the sea, you are not dependent on season and can harvest anytime during the year. We work with the two green algae species sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca
) and gutweed (Ulva intestinalis
), as well as sugar kelp (Saccharina latissimi
) that is a brown algae. Aside from the protein amount we also analyse amino acids and other nutrients.
In a second step we use a process where protein from one resource can be concentrated by dissolving them in at a high pH, remove non-protein matter, e.g. carbohydrates, and finally precipitate the protein to solid particles at a pH where the protein has minimal solubility. We recently observed that this technique could concentrate seaweed proteins 4-5 times, reaching isolates with up to 70% protein. However, this process has not yet been optimized for seaweed as a resource and is therefore not sufficiently efficient; we will therefore investigate different strategies to increase the so called “protein exchange”.
To ensure tasty and safe ingredients, sensory analysis and partitioning of potential heavy metals as well as iodine will be recorded during the protein concentrating process, followed by speciation and bioavailability studies. Altogether, CirkAlg will thus take a holistic system approach to fill the protein gap; with the creation of a new secondary food chain based on outlets from the primary chain; altogether contributing to circular food production.
Seaweed has many beneficial properties, but they can assimilate heavy metals when present in the surrounding water. Brown algae can also sometimes become so rich in iodine that the concentration becomes too high. To ensure the complete food safety of our products, we will investigate the presence of heavy metals and iodine in both seaweed and algae ingredients. To be even more on the safe side we will also utilize an in vitro
model to investigate how human gut cells takes up heavy metals and iodine from seaweed. This is relatively unknown at present.