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Innovative cost-effective technology for maximizing aquatic biomass-based molecules for food, feed and cosmetic applications

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BIOSEA (Innovative cost-effective technology for maximizing aquatic biomass-based molecules for food, feed and cosmetic applications)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

EU society needs new sustainable bio-based feedstocks to meet population growth and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, main factors hindering the sustainable European market is the high cost of ingredients and low-quality products. Thus, the main objective for a sustainable and competitive bio-based EU industry is based on a circular bio-society with highly efficient and sustainable biomass production for food, feed and bio-based products.
High consideration should be given to the multi-use of the marine sector as main alternative of conventional natural resources, in particular algae biomass, due to their properties, which enable food, feed and non-food chain production concepts, which are considerably more sustainable than the existing value chains. Nevertheless, algae feedstock market is still facing immature technologies for production. The project includes, upstream and downstream processing steps for the obtention of selected active compounds and the evaluation of their bioactive properties. Special attention was paid to the extraction and fractionation/purification of the compounds of interest maximizing yield per mass unit and optimizing the cost in order to allow a cost-effective scale-up of the process.
The project focused on the validation and scaling-up of a complete production process of ingredients from 4 algae, using cascading biorefinery approach that includes pretreatment, fractionation and conversion technologies, to be used in food, feed and cosmetic products and resulted in a range of replacement ingredients sourced from microalgae (Spirulina platensis and Nannochloropsis sp.) and macroalgae (Ulva ohnoi and Saccharina latissima). In this sense, IGV optimized, cultivated (up to pilot scale) and harvested microalgae Spirulina platensis and Nannochloropsis sp. biomass, produced in indoor closed photobioreactors, employing Glass photobioreactors and MUTL ®, the ¨mesh-ultra-thin-layer-technology¨. This optimization process involved parameters control, such as: nutrients, light, CO2, temperature, thus reaching an increase of yield of ingredients of interest.
CTAQUA focused on the cultivation of the macroalge (Ulva ohnoi), in laboratory-based photobioreactors, then upscaled in open ponds, and cultivated in cages, focusing on the seeding, harvesting and invasive species protection.
Meanwhile, AT-SEA Nova, optimized a patented advanced textile cultivation of Saccharina latissima, in European seas, focusing on seeding technology, timing of seeding and harvesting, together with confronting with climatic influences. Innovative approach, throughout the replacement of the conventional 2D rope, and offering a greater production yield through a larger cultivation surface.
VITO, CNTA and Feyecon researchers have developed and upscaled ¨zero waste¨ extraction protocols, tailored for each of the 4 algae strains of the project, aiming for the extraction of useful products on a “cascading” basis, so that each refining stage produces new, useful products and nothing is discarded. Reagents and chemicals used have also been selected for maximum sustainability. This resulting in a range of replacement ingredients sourced from algae, including proteins, phycocyanin, fatty acids, carbohydrates, carotenoids, lipids and sugar enriched extracts.
BIOPOLIS, CNTA and AITEX have identified added value in the obtained algal products, applicable to the envisaged industries in the project, including anti-microbial effect, protection against UV damage,fat reduction and antioxidant properties.
These compounds are employed in the development of functional food, feed and cosmetic products, with the aim of replacing conventional ingredients, which may be imported or generate contamination, with high added value algal ingredients. In addition, VLCI determined the compatibility solubility properties of these ingredients via the Hansen Solubility Parameter workflow, to efficiently find matching ingredients and formulate them, with highest efficacy.
For example, the Soria Natural has replaced soy protein with algae protein for veggie burgers, CPCFEED suggested swapping fish plasma with algal proteins and included microalgal biomass in animal piglet feed, DIBAQ and CTAQUA experimented the replacement of protein, and polysaccharide, in fish diets, and developed antioxidants and HENKEL tested other ingredients from algae, such as lipids or sugars to be used in cosmetic products, as marine carries, algae caviar and personal care products.
LCA and sLCA assessment was performed, by TABU for the validation of the feasibility of this complete production process of ingredients of algae into industrial products, considering the definition of the profile of each product and societal acceptance of this new sustainable ingredients source.
Progress beyond the state of the art:

BIOSEA aimed at developing innovative methodologies in algae cultivation and process optimization, in order to increase the bioactive compounds production and cost reduction. For macroalgae cultivation are employed novel textile materials and optimized algae culture processes in optimized photobioreactors.Fot microalgae cultivation, a new scalable PBR design based on mesh-ultra-thin-layer technology (MUTL) working principles was applied at pilot scale.
In terms of bioactive compounds obtention, BIOSEA focused on sustainable optimized cascading extraction protocols, tailored for each algae strain cultivated in the project using technologies that overcome the gaps existing in the conventional solvent extraction, by focusing on different pre-treatment and alternative extraction methods that reduce cost and negative environmental impacts, in ¨zero waste¨ generation approach.
The main innovation aspect in the evaluation of the active principles for the target applications, is based on the analysis of the protein digestibility tests, using modified PDCAAS methodology for overcoming discrepancies with other methodologies. Also, simulated conditions were used for the rheological properties and in vitro methods for cytotoxicity tests. Microencapsulation processes were optimized in terms of parameters adjustments and definition of innvative marinosome and algae caviar encapsulation systems, based on raw materials obtained from the BIOSEA process.

The main results: Specific aquatic biomass, with new growing conditions (for substantially increased yields, involving pilot scale PBR´s, MUTL PBR´s, floating cages, 3D textiles in open sea) suitable for application in food, feed and personal care markets, using both micro and macroalgae from aquatic environment. (4 algae strains: Spirulina platensis, Nannochloropsis sp., Ulva ohnoi, and Sacharinna latissima). A minimum of 6 sustainable ingredients as proteic, antioxidant fractions were obtained through new eco-efficient/eco-sustainable cascading conversion. These were functionally validated using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) as a model organism, and further used in food, feed and cosmetic final products.

The project impact is based on innovation offering to most of the companies involved, new possibilities to improve their innovation capacities and expand their business models. Applications developed under the project represent a first step for further applications, so the impact will not be restricted to the participating consortium as the obtained compounds will be of further application to different subsectors related.