GENetic diversity exploitation for Innovative Macro-ALGal biorefinery

SINTEF Ocean’s Plankton Centre is researching new ways of using algae and plankton commercially

The Plankton Centre at SINTEF Ocean received funding from the Research Council of Norway towards the construction of new laboratories that could develop innovative ways to use algae and plankton commercially. The objective of this centre, ran by SINTEF Ocean in collaboration with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is to identify new ways of producing, harvesting and processing microalgae, macroalgae and zooplankton.

For example, researchers are looking into using microalgae as feed for farmed fish, to replace soya which is imported from overseas and typically produced unsustainably on deforested land. In addition to being more sustainable, feed from microalgae would also have higher concentrations of fatty acids. Emphasising the importance of commercialising micro-algae, C-Feed is a company that has emerged from the SINTEF start-up community, selling feed ingredients to the marine aquaculture industry.

The Plankton Centre is also working on behalf of Statoil in order to understand the impact that certain chemicals (synthetic polymers associated with improved oil recovery) have on different marine species.

According to Gunvor Øie, the Plankton Centre Manager as well as the Research Director at SINTEF Ocean, the aim of the centre is to “contribute towards establishing a new biomarine industry in Norway”. With all its potential applications, “some people believe that algae and plankton will be the new oil”.

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