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  • Writer's pictureNatasha YAMAMURA

Discover the Endless Possibilities: Processes to Turn Macroalgae into Bioproducts

Updated: Apr 22



At a first glance, our flowchart on how bioproducts are made can seem quite complex! A few key points will help us to gain clarity.



Firstly, the type of macroalgae and the conditions that it grows in will determine what bioproducts will be not only possible to make but also be highly effective. There is no 'one size fits all'!


Secondly, the main reason to explore all possible bioproducts at the cultivation stage (instead of just one product), is to benefit the whole community and create a sustainable circular economy. In practice, this means that we do not waste ANYTHING - every part of the seaweed is used and re-used to reach its full potential in the most environmentally sustainable way possible. Many sectors in the region will benefit, and what's more - the environment will ALWAYS benefit from controlled algae cultivation.


Thirdly, macroalgae is great to use as an alternative source to fossil fuel because of its high sugar content. This sugar content enables macroalgae biomass to be used in a very diverse ways and be turned into practically anything! 



Algae Scope focuses on creating bioproducts for the energy, transportation, Consumer Packaged Goods, and agricultural sectors. Here's a quick look at the processes that we need to go through to create diverse bioproducts.



Bioenergy


Biogas

To produce biogas, we use an anaerobic digestion process that creates biomethane. This proves to be a great source of electricity and heat production. It can be produced on a small scale (for local farms), a larger scale (for oil and gas companies) or anything in between. It can be designed and applied as a sustainable alternative in supply chain processes or for production and consumption by customers as the ultimate end-users.


Bioethanol

Bioethanol can be used in the maritime and transportation industries by using pretreatment/fermentation processes. Many companies in these sectors have already started to transition to more sustainable alternative fuel production (e.g. corn, sugarcane, lignocellulosic material such as woodchip). This will make the shift to other biomass, such as seaweed, much easier and faster.


The European Commission has established a cap on emissions known as the EU-ETS. In response to this, the production of bioethanol can be mixed with current fossil fuels to meet EU standards.


Biomaterials


Biopolymers

To enable the transition from synthetic plastic to eco-friendly alternatives, it is critical to make biopolymers that can degrade. There are two types of biopolymers made of algae that can have high biodegradable properties - Polylactic Acid (PLA) and Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). These can quickly be produced using already-built fermentation and production processes to create bioplastics with very high water-resistant qualities.


Biotextile/ Building Material

Macroalgae can trap and absorb heavy metals that pollute the water they live in. This gives the potential to use metal-specific biomass, for example, to use as building materials (such as the production of bricks).


They also have naturally fire-retardant properties which can be used in the textile industry.


Biofertilizer

There is a simple process for producing biofertilizers. Once the macroalgae is collected, it goes through a pressing process that applies pressure to remove the remaining water and extract the nutrients to produce a liquid and a solid. The liquid "nutrient water" is known as a biostimulant, and the solid is a pure biofertilizer.


Biostimulants

When "nutrient water" has been made, it can be useful for soil nutrients. This process of making biostimulants can be done quickly and locally with one single process. There is growing scientific evidence to demonstrate that produce enhanced by macroalgae biostimulants have improved yield and shelf-life, meaning that they stay fresh for longer.


Solid Biofertilizer

Once the macroalgae is pressed, it goes through a grinding process. This turns the solid dried biomass into powder. The powder gives the plant life nutrition within the dried algae. This is an easy process that again, can be achieved and sourced locally.


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