Research focus

Macroalgae biomass is characterized by a high content of high-added value compounds such as biopolymers, carbohydrates and vitamins, which can be used in several applications. For the integral utilization of this marine resource, efficient biotransformation processes are developed in this project to extract and separate the compounds of interest. 

With this purpose, enzymatic, mechanical and hydrothermal technologies are investigated in this project to enable the extraction of macroalgae compounds.

The main objectives of the project can be summarized as follows:

  • Feedstock selection based on biomass availability and biochemical composition
  • Selective extraction and separation of valuable polysaccharides such as alginate and ulvan
  • Development of new biobased materials as bioplastics from the macroalgae biopolymers
  • Extraction and separation of macroalgae proteins and evaluation as food and feed ingredients
  • Evaluation of the global macroalgae potential and assessment of the derived product markets

Take a look at our papers about alginate and ulvan extraction by enzymatic and mechanical methods and learn more about the results of this I3 Lab. Soon, our review paper about macroalgae biorefinery and a new publication about the extraction of proteins from the red macroalgae Porphyra dioica will be available. 


Societal impact

Nowadays, plastic accumulation is one of the biggest challenges that our society is facing. In addition, during the production of petroleum-based plastics, huge amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted, contributing significantly to climate change. In this sense, the structural polymers found in macroalgae cell walls are potential candidates for the development of biomaterials: they are renewable, environmentally friendly and non-toxic. Furthermore, they have a very broad revalorization potential and are characterized by a high biocompatibility, film-forming properties, biodegradability and availability.For the extraction of these biopolymers, technologies such as enzyme, mechanical and hydrothermal assisted extraction are investigated.

The emission of greenhouse gases is another big challenge that contributes significantly to climate change and environmental pollution, coming nearly one-third of these emissions fron the current food system. The use of macroalgae proteins as a source of new food and feed ingredients presents a compelling opportunity to promote sustainable practices in the food industry and contribute to the achievement of several of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.