Seaweed to Cow Feed at World’s Largest Algae Factory
Volta Greentech

The Volta Greentech seaweed factory ©Volta Greentech

by Nichola Daunton,

A Swedish start-up, Volta Greentech, is building the world’s largest algae factory to create emission-reducing seaweed feed for cattle. Run by an international group of scientists and climate innovators, the team has created “Volta Seafeed,” a supplement made from the red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis.

Volta Greentech researchers say that when fed to cows at a daily dose of just 100 grams, Volta Seafeed reduces their enteric methane (gas fermented in the intestines of cows, sheep and goats) emissions by up to 80 per cent.

The production of methane by a natural fermentation process, takes place in the rumen (the largest of a cow’s four stomachs). As they digest their food hydrogen and carbon dioxide are released, and a natural enzyme then combines the two gases, creating methane in the process. Feeding a cow 100 grams of the seaweed feed, however, naturally suppresses this enzyme and methane emissions are reduced as a consequence.

The feed has been through several rounds of international testing over the past six years, and Volta Greentech is now working in collaboration with Sweden’s largest feed company, Lantmännen. “The methane-reducing effect has very largely been proven, and we now want to investigate how this affects other parameters,” says Cecilia Lindahl, a product developer at Lantmännen. “We want to find out if the cows eat the feed to the same extent, if the milk production is affected when it comes to yield and composition. So far, the results look promising.”

Scaling up production

With over one billion cows in the world, scaling up production of its seaweed feed is a top priority for the Swedish company. Several rounds of investment mean it has been able to open its first factory “Volta Factory 1” in Lysekil, which will be followed in 2022 by “Volta Factory 2,” billed as the world’s biggest seaweed factory.

The company is aiming to tackle Sweden’s cattle first, with the hope that it can expand internationally in the future.

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