MacroValue seeks to address following 4 main challenges:
- Seasonal variation: Most of the existing literature refers to research which has been made on naturally grown macroalgae populations. However, cultivation is characterized by seeding and harvesting within 3-6 months, and the harvest can take place during different seasons of the year – and for some species several times in one year. The nutritional composition of macroalgae varies, depending on strain, season and area of cultivation. These represent different values in commercial utilization, and thus optimization of macroalgae cultivation is only possible if it can be based on knowledge about the variation of macro- and micronutrients in the seaweed.
- Optimisation of seeding: An additional challenge relates to optimising seeding methods through selective breeding of high performing weeds in growth rate and yield. The protocols are fairly well developed within S. latissima and A. esculenta, but there is a need to improve the ability to seed P. palmata (which is rich in protein and in high demand) in a large scale off shore cultivation operation.
- Storage stability: Furthermore, an unsolved bottle neck for large scale macro algal cultivation is bringing the biomass into a storage stable condition in an energy efficient and otherwise cost effective operation. Currently the most common method is using drying or blast freezing. However, both these methods demand energy, labour and time. There is a need to demonstrate how a storage stable condition can be obtained with enzymes or organic acids with an operational throughput of >5 tonnes wet weight pr day.
- Product applications: Finally, it is important to identify product applications and market drivers ranging from low volume/high price to high volume/low price segments. The challenge is to increase the value of the fresh weight product through optimised cultivation programs (which species to harvest when), and conduct product extraction and refinement in order to better match price attractive market demands.