A Swedish research project on how algae could be grown to produce food, medicine and energy has received as much as 31 million SEK in grants, unusually high in this context. The project is headed by Fredrik Gröndahl from the Sven Lovén Centre in Fiskebäckskil.
– I was very surprised, or rather happily surprised.
Yes, it's almost like winning the top prize for a researcher in marine biology or rather industrial ecology at KTH, which is Fredrik Gröndahl's actual affiliation. It is the research council Formas who has contributed with 25 millions. Regions, municipalities and food companies contribute with the rest. Fredrik describes the project:
– The algae we grow, we will tuck into a biorefinery, where we can extract food or food additives, or feedstuff for animals. We'll look at valuable chemicals, materials and other things you can glean.
But not only that, the algae mass that is left can be used as biomass for producing energy. And the waste product can become nutrients for plant cultivation. It is also important for the environment to grow algae on the coast:
– The whole point is that the culture should be in the sea, so that the algae also pick up nutrients that otherwise contribute to eutrophication.
The project is part of a new international growth branch called blue growth, developing new industries in the sea and along the coasts.