PROMAC (Energy-efficient PROcessing of MACroalgae in blue-green value chains) is a project funded by the HAVBRUK2 program from the Norwegian Research Council (35 million NOK, 2015-2018). The project, coordinated by Møreforsking AS, draws on key expertise from both Norwegian (SINTEF, NIBIO, NTNU and NMBU) and European (CEVA, MATIS and SLU) research institutes, as well as industrial partners (Tafjord Kraftvarme, Felleskjøpet Fôrutvikling, Firmenich, Blue Legasea, The Northern Company, Orkla Foods, Hortimare and Marinox). PROMAC has examined different approaches to the production of proteins and health promoting ingredients for human food and animal feed through the sustainable production and processing of macroalgae. The project focuses on three species (Alaria esculenta, Saccharina latissima and Palmaria palmata). The research work included (i) examining variations in raw material composition and quality from both wild harvested and cultured macroalgae, (ii) developing primary processes that improve raw material properties, (iii) establishing fractionation and extraction methods to enrich beneficial proteins or remove unwanted antinutrients, and (iv) evaluate the nutritional and health value of processed macroalgae ingredients to different animal groups according to their different intestinal systems. Macroalgae from Northern Norway, Central Norway, France and Iceland were harvested and analyzed for composition and quality and tested as feed ingredients in animal trials. Further research has been carried out on how harvesting, processing and storage affect the nutrient content (e.g. iodine, cadmium) and sensory properties of the different seaweed species. Screening of process conditions for production of protein rich fractions was carried out in laboratory scale. Fractions extracted from S. latissima and P. palmata were evaluated for digestibility in mink and in in vitro fermentations with endobacteria from ruminants. Fractions extracted from A. esculenta were also tested in in vitro fermentation trials. From S. latissima, 25 kg of dried product (enriched in protein with reduced salt and iodine content) was obtained and tested in sheep feeding trials. Feeding experiments with mink were also performed to evaluate the taste and digestibility of whole and concentrated S. latissima and P. palmata, as well as effects on health and microbiota of the intestine. Experiments with zebrafish have been conducted for detailed evaluation of effects on the intestinal immune and barrier functions. In order to reduce the energy required for primary processing of macroalgae, PROMAC included a case study using surplus heat from a combustion plant for drying and processing seaweed. A survey and evaluation of various heat sources at Tafjord Kraftvarme AS was carried out. From this study, a generic energy model was developed to assess the drying kinetics of S. latissima. Data were collected from the industrial stakeholders as input in Life Cycle Analysis, Material and Energy Flow Analysis, and bioeconomic models. The value chains and principles of the models were outlined.
Deliverables in the project are completed as planned. However, due to the challenges in obtaining enough quantity of products to be tested in animal trials, the project was granted a one-year extension. PROMAC interdisciplinary research innovation on macroalgae products and their possible uses was presented at a series of national and international conferences. More information about the project and its scientific publications can be found on the website www.promac.no.
PROMAC has had a major impact on the development of new blue-green value chains, through its extensive production of new knowledge, including 15 scientific papers and over 120 communications. The project has had a strong focus on environmental issues, and has through life cycle management studies, addressed the impact of the closed loop production systems regarding raw materials and energy. Moreover, the focus on replacing terrestrial-based protein in animal feed by marine-based protein, addresses important topics of how to reduce carbon footprint, use of land area, freshwater and mineral resources. By doing so, PROMAC contributes in meeting the increasing demands of sustainable food production, especially from marine raw materials. Through qualitative and quantitative analyses of the production systems, PROMAC commit to enhance sustainable innovations in the marine sector and address the three of the UN goals (GOAL 12; GOAL 13; GOAL 14).
Ongoing global human population growth and continuing rise in the standard of living demand increasing access to food and feed resources. The world's oceans have the largest unlocked potential for meeting such demands. The cultivation of seaweeds (large marine algae) represents an important strategy for climate positive exploitation and sustainable utilisation of biological resources and, accordingly, associated bio-based industries are developing fast in Norway.
PROMAC will investigate seaweeds as novel raw materials for human food and domestic animal feed applications. Three different species of seaweed, all with significant potential for commercial cultivation in Norway as well as distinct raw material qualities, will be evaluated as alternative sources of proteins and energy in animal feed, and for their health benefits as human food. The project will (i) assess variation of raw material composition and quality from both harvested and cultured seaweed biomass in relation to environmental and biological factors, (ii) develop primary processes (washing / dehydration, maturation) which will enhance desired raw material properties, (iii) establish fractionation and extraction methods best suited to enrich beneficial proteins or remove undesirable anti-nutrients and (iv) evaluate nutritional and health values of processed macroalgal ingredients for various animal groups and in relation to their distinct digestive systems. PROMAC also addresses the high energy requirements associated with processing (especially drying, but also secondary processing) of macroalgae as an aquatic raw material. We use the case study of a waste incinerator located on the coast as a model for utilising excess energy from industrial plants in marine bio-based value chains. PROMAC will evaluate benefits and costs of macroalgal products along such value chains (from raw material to market and consumer) through product-based Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and business model evaluations.