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Posts Tagged ‘seaweed’

The Seaweed Health Foundation and the UK’s Role in the Algae Industry

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Dr. Craig Rose, Executive Director of Seaweed Health Foundation

In a previous article, seaweed researcher Dr. Craig Rose discussed what role seaweeds will play in the algae industry. In this article, Dr. Rose discusses the Seaweed Health Foundation, an organization that he currently serves as Executive Director, and the UK’s role in the algae industry.

1) You are currently head of the Seaweed Health Foundation. What are this organisation’s goals and are there any projects they are currently working on?

The Seaweed Health Foundation was founded in 2010 by Seagreens, the UK’s leading seaweed supplier , and is run as an independent not-for-profit organisation to facilitate applied research and increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of human food quality seaweed for food, health and body care.

We have a membership which spans the entire supply chain, incorporating harvesters, processors, nutritionists, distributors, food manufacturers and retailers, as well as academic research partners.

We are leading the market with commercially focussed research to validate to industry the benefits of seaweed in response to market place concerns and regulation through:

• Salt reduction
• Obesity
• Nutrition
• Acceptability
• Shelf-life
• Sustainability
• Standard development for human food quality seaweed

Our research, with our academic partners, uses human food quality seaweed and has shown various products to be acceptable to consumers, and providing shelf-life extending properties and satiety (feeling of fullness) enhancing potential when incorporated into food products.

We are also driving the market by raising consumer awareness and acceptance of seaweed as foods and food ingredients. Furthermore, we are setting the standards that will ensure human food quality seaweed and sustainability of supply, in order to give confidence to industry as they start to utilise seaweeds in increasing volumes.

We work with our members and other organisations to develop innovation, and promote and deliver education and training services on the use of seaweeds, market insight, and new product development.

Whilst a traditional food for many, seaweeds are being recognised as a food of the future.

2) You just launched a new website for the Seaweed Health Foundation. Could you tell us a little about it?

The Seaweed Health Foundation has recently launched their website. The site is to provide information on our core aim – to increase awareness and understanding of the benefits of human food quality seaweed for food, health and body care – and as a portal for our members to access our market leading independent research and information. The services provided by the site will be developed further over the coming months for both members, and non-members interested in becoming involved in the seaweed health industries.

Currently there is information on what the Foundation does, addressing the key market trends of health and wellness, sustainability, and innovation and research. Industry news and events will be highlighted, and we welcome comments from our Members and potential Members on what they would like to see further from us.

3) What role do you see the UK playing in the algae industry?

As an island nation, with immense academic and commercial expertise, the UK has a key role to play in the algae industries.

Numerous universities and research institutes across the UK are involved in projects involving seaweeds and microalgae, and for a range of applications. The UK’s strength in various disciplines from marine science and technology to food technology and innovation is ensuring world-class projects are being undertaken. These are often funded through commercially focussed research streams and private investment to ensure that there is a commercial focus, which is key to the success of the industry.

Furthermore, the UK has some ideal areas of coastline for seaweed cultivation and harvest, and a strong history of maritime industries.
Overall, the UK is providing the entire algae supply chain from cultivation and harvest to the expertise in processing technologies that add value and drive market innovation.

4) Seaweed was recently mentioned in the Research Council UK “Big Ideas for the Future” report. Could you give a brief rundown of what the article is about?

The Research Council UK is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils, and so we were delighted when their report on “Big Ideas for the Future” highlights “seaweed instead of salt” (see page 58) as one of these big ideas.

The report comes from research undertaken by the Seaweed Health Foundation on behalf of its member, and founder, Seagreens® Ltd, and which was undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Food Innovation. The research involves the use of dried, milled, human food quality seaweed in replacement of salt within a range of staple foods. Results to date have been extremely encouraging, and there are numerous examples of significant commercial uptake within our Membership and beyond.

In addition to the huge potential as a means to reduce salt (sodium) in foods, Seagreens® seaweed is also offering potential improvements in satiety (feeling of fullness) and improved nutrition.

The recognition by Research Councils UK of seaweed as a big idea for the future, gives real credence to our work.

Dr Craig Rose
Executive Director
The Seaweed Health Foundation
http://www.seaweedhealthfoundation.org.uk

UK Researcher on the Other Algae: Seaweeds

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Dr. Craig Rose, Executive Director of Seaweed Health Foundation

In the algae industry, microalgae has been the main focus of research and funding. However, research is also taking place with macroalgae such as seaweeds. I talked with Dr. Craig Rose, Director of The Seaweed Health Foundation, about seaweeds and their place in the overall algae industry.

1) What benefits do seaweeds have over microalgae?

Seaweeds (macroalgae) are an underutilised natural and sustainable resource with many benefits for a number of industries, including food and healthcare, life sciences, and biofuels. As such, both seaweeds and microalgae have a wide range of benefits for many applications and industries, which have both differing and complementary uses.

Within the food, health and body care industries, the use of seaweeds is long established in Asian cultures, and in the West has traditions in, for example, parts if the UK and Ireland. This is due to the availability and sustainability of seaweeds which are a highly nutritious and tasty source of food.

Furthermore, the huge diversity of seaweed species provides a wide array of benefits with various attributes and applications based on their beneficial micronutrients, proteins, iodine, fatty acids, vitamins, to name put a few.

2) Would seaweed production be a better choice over microalgae for certain climates or areas with land restrictions?

Seaweeds are harvested from the wild, or primarily cultivated at sea for subsequent harvest. As such, there is no requirement for fresh water or competition for land with other crops or natural habitat, which is certainly beneficial in areas where freshwater and land are particularly restricted. Microalgae may require large areas of land as the technology is scaled up, but the land used may well not be of value for human and natural use.

Many aspects of the macro and micro algae industries are already being commercialised and require significant scale-up, so we must keep an open and innovative mind as to how we best cultivate and harvest.

Whatever resources are available to a particular locality for algal cultivation and harvest should be exploited as best suited, and in a commercially viable and sustainable manner.

3) In the growing algae industry, what role do you think seaweeds will play?

Global investment in algae is growing massively, with the bulk of investment in microalgal biofuels. Seaweeds are also receiving large scale investment, and have a key role for the biofuel potential (e.g. ethanol, methane, butanol), lifescience extracts (e.g. fucoidin, laminarin) and for food and health care.

Each of these industries is at varying stages of development, requiring varying levels of investment. Our focus, and the industry that has been established for millennia, is the food and health care industry. As such, the research effort here is to scientifically validate the many beneficial claims of seaweeds, which will enable seaweeds to continue the move towards being more mainstream products accepted and desired by industry and consumers. The research and development of seaweeds is a logical evolution from a relatively low volume: high value industry with seaweeds for food, to the eventual development of high volume: low value biofuel industries. This development fits well with current technological and market readiness.

Dr Craig Rose
Executive Director
The Seaweed Health Foundation
http://www.seaweedhealthfoundation.org.uk

Statoil & Bio Architecture Lab Partner to Commercialize Macroalgae-to-Ethanol Process in Norway

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Statoil to provide direct funding for R&D demonstration phase and commercial scale-up in Norway

BERKELEY, Calif. (September 15, 2010) Bio Architecture Lab (BAL) and Statoil (NYSE: STO), one of the world’s largest offshore oil and gas producers, today announced a wide-ranging strategic partnership for the production of renewable, sustainable and low cost ethanol derived from macro algae grown off the coast of Norway.  Under terms of the agreement, Statoil will fund BAL’s research and development (R&D) and demonstration projects, and if successful, will also fund the commercialization of BAL’s technology in Norway and elsewhere in Europe.  BAL will have the right to equity participation and will receive royalties on all ethanol and by-products produced by the partnership.

“This game changing partnership will allow Bio Architecture Lab to accelerate our path toward commercialization and establish our technology in key markets in Europe,” said Daniel Trunfio, CEO of Bio Architecture Lab. “The significant commitment of resources and funds from Statoil further validates BAL’s market opportunity and puts us with an elite group of companies in our industry who have partnered with established oil and gas companies to bring technology to market.”

During the initial phase of the partnership, BAL is responsible for developing the technology and process to convert Norwegian seaweed into ethanol. Statoil is responsible for developing and managing the seaweed aquafarming operations, with consultation from BAL, which already has aquafarming operations in Chile. Upon the successful achievement of key milestones, Statoil and BAL will develop a demonstration scale facility in Norway, which could potentially lead to large scale commercialization by Statoil in Norway and other parts of Europe.

“Statoil has a unique competitive advantage in energy production in the marine environment.  We are very impressed with the science and the progress BAL has made and we believe their approach to low cost and sustainable biomass feedstock solutions is among the most promising we have seen,” said Guntis Aboltins-Abolins, Head of the Future Fuel unit at Statoil.  “We look forward to partnering with BAL on such an important strategic initiative that has the potential to provide Europe with low carbon renewable fuels.”

Bio Architecture Lab was founded to address the huge market need for a low cost, scalable, and sustainable source of sugar for biofuel and renewable chemical production using aquafarmed, native macro algae as a feedstock.

BAL has been building out a similar program off the coast of Chile as part of a program funded by the Chilean government.  In addition, BAL has partnered with DuPont in a project funded by the Advanced Research Program Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to convert macro algae into isobutanol. In total, the company has received more than $34 million in funding, grants and strategic investments.

About Bio Architecture Lab
Founded in 2007, Bio Architecture Lab is a privately-held company headquartered in Berkeley, California with offices in Santiago, Chile. Bio Architecture Lab is focused on enabling the production of the world’s lowest cost, most scalable, and sustainable source of sugars for biofuel and renewable chemicals from aquafarmed, native macro algae (seaweed). Company investors include Austral Capital, X/Seed Capital and Energy Capital Management. The company has also received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program through a partnership with DuPont and has been awarded funding from the Chilean Government in partnership with ENAP, the Chilean national oil company. More information is available via the web at www.ba-lab.com.

About Statoil
Statoil is an international energy company with operations in 40 countries. Building on more than 35 years of experience from oil and gas production on the Norwegian continental shelf, Statoil is committed to accommodating the world’s energy needs in a responsible manner, applying technology and creating innovative business solutions. Statoil is headquartered in Norway with 30,000 employees worldwide, and is listed on the New York and Oslo Stock Exchange. For more information, please visit www.statoil.com.