by Mark Edwards
Show Pau Loke, assistant professor at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia, described a series of events that have plagued many algae research and production teams. During the pandemic they had to leave campus and most of the specimens in their algae library did not survive.
He and his team, Khoo Kuan Shiong and Chew Kit Wayne, responded by creating an algae initiative designed to network algae scientists and practitioners in Oceania.
Their goal is to find and exchange authentic algae strains and preserve them. This preservation and exchange initiative morphed into the Algae Biotechnology Consortium, (ABC).
The Algae Biotechnology Consortium organized at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia, creates an outreach for all algae researchers around the world. The University of Nottingham also has campuses in the UK and China.
ABC engages people in Oceania and beyond in the preservation and exchange of algae strains to preserve and sustain authentic algae strains and avoid extinction.
ABC’s vision: Create an algae library collection for the preservation of algae strains that are found locally, regionally, and globally.
ABC will allow researchers to have access to various types and species of algae that can be used for research and development application. The researchers want to engage institutions and industrial partners to share the mutual benefits of four major elements in algae utilization:
- Algae Cultivation: Upstream processing of algae and microalgae feedstock
- Algae Biotechnology: Downstream processing of algae and microalgae feedstock
- Algae Storage and Identification using Artificial Intelligence: Integration of Industry 4.0 in algae and microalgae feedstock handling
- Algae Bioproducts Commercialization: Provide access to affordable and high-quality algae and microalgae bioproducts and biotechnologies
As a visionary organization, ABC assists in sustainable production and consumption without consuming fossil fuels while promoting a green future through cooperative R&D, research-based education, and public outreach. It uses renewable energy to cultivate algae-based superfoods, feeds, and many other valuable bioproducts. Simultaneously, the consortium wants to encourage the use of algae as a fundamental source of future food, energy, nutrition, health products, cosmetics, and help people understand the multiple, sustainable ecological practices that benefit societies globally, using algae.
Reaching a global, ecological level of sustainability is at the forefront of the consortium’s goals. Thus, their research-based education, public outreach, and engagement promotes algae renewable energy as a way to transform human society and our shared environment into a greener and cleaner future.
Additionally, ABC facilitates the opportunity to make algae the fundamental source of nutrition, bioproducts, and ecological services for sustainable practices among societies globally. The ABC initiative will also help Malaysian communities build sustainable solutions.
Future food initiative
ABC intends to support communities around the world with high nutritional and positive tasting algae-based food. Many food products can benefit from incorporating algae because many cultivars are high in both omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, so they add additional nutrients. The academic and industry collaborators strive to find superior algae-based foods for development and cultivation globally. They hope these efforts will enable more consumers to recognize algae as an alternative food source. Pictured above: Hannah Kemp blog, Hidden World of Algae.
Algae circular bioeconomy initiative
Closer to home, ABC will begin a series of social outreach activities for Malaysian farmers. The activities will train them to cultivate algae on their farms plus provide guidance on how to use algae to support their crops with biofertilizer, plant hormones, and biopesticides.
The team will also facilitate the use of wastewater and waste gases to cultivate algae biofertilizer for environmental remediation and for soil enrichment with algae-based biochar.
These activities lead to algae being the centerpiece of a circular bioeconomy. Known for its massive capacity as a carbon dioxide and other nutrient assimilator, algae are the perfect ingredient to cleanse flue gas and wastewater. The harvested algae biomass is then processed into high-value products such as functional food ingredients, animal feed including aquaculture, pigments for clothing and colorants for food, nutritional supplements, biofuels, biopolymers, and many additional bioproducts. The remaining portion of extracted biomass may be used as a fertilizer source or for soil amendments.
ABC provides a flexible R&D algae platform for researchers and industries to collaborate and develop solutions for attacking environmental challenges. The platform leverages the expertise and capability of algae researchers in commercializing algae bioproducts and technologies which will help foster the advancement of algae as a top food and feed product in the world.
The 6th International Conference and Postgraduate Colloquium for Environmental Research (POCER), will be held at Resort World, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia. The POCER 2022 theme is: The Green Industrial Revolution of the Next Decade.
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