Algae, Microalgae & Seaweed

European Project Uses Biorefineries to Extract Proteins From Seaweed & Legume Byproducts

ALEHOOP, a European project funded by Sustainable Bio-Based Europe, has successfully used pilot-scale biorefineries to recover sustainable proteins from macroalgae (seaweed) and legume byproducts.

The recovered proteins could be used to produce high-value food and feed products, including meat alternatives, snacks, and sports drinks. The project has conducted numerous safety tests to ensure that the proteins address any regulatory requirements and market barriers.

Consistently high-quality

Seaweed is a highly sustainable protein source as it requires no additional land or freshwater to grow and can benefit marine ecosystems. Meanwhile, legume processing generates byproducts such as seed coats, hulls, broken seeds, and leaves, which would normally be discarded; proteins made from these byproducts therefore have a very low carbon footprint.

One challenge faced by the ALEHOOP project is that the quality and quantity of seaweed available can vary depending on the season and location. Accordingly, the project has had to optimise its process to ensure the production of consistently high-quality proteins.

© ALEHOOP

Increasing food security

The successful pilot-scale extraction of proteins from algae and legume byproducts has been described as a “significant milestone”, and the project will now enter its final phase. This will involve validating the use of the proteins for food and feed applications.

Another EU project producing seaweed-based foods is FunSea, which aims to improve the nutritional quality and safety of cultivated brown and green seaweed. The project is working to develop sustainable food products within three years, with the help of partners such as alt seafood startup BettaF!sh.

“This achievement represents a big step towards providing sustainable, low-cost dietary proteins that can help reduce the EU’s dependency on imported proteins while also increasing food security, contributing to the circular bioeconomy, and helping mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Nuria Valdés Mediavilla, project manager at Contactica Innovation.

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