Japan’s Fukushima disaster is spawning billions of green, slimy photosynthetic organisms throughout its countryside – algae that is. Government grants are financing research into using algae harvesting technology as a new approach to radiation remediation.
I met with Riggs Eckelberry, president & CEO of California-based start-up OriginOil today. Eckelberry said that company, which makes solutions for renewable energy and treating wastewater, was selected by the Research Institute of Tsukuba Bio-tech to build up to 100 algae production sites in Japan via government financing.
Algae are capable of absorbing radioactive isotopes such as cesium, which were released in vast quantities during the nuclear disaster. Aerial contamination was widespread with cesium levels peaking at 50 million times normal levels, becoming the largest accidental release of radiation into the ocean in history. While the ocean took the brunt of the radiation, fallout fouled agricultural crops as well as beef and fish. The potential impact on human health is evident, and is being dealt with through both traditional and nontraditional means.
A new study using brevetoxin-2, a compound produced naturally by marine algae, stimulated nerve cell growth and plasticity in cultured mouse neurons. This research advances a potentially new pharmacological treatment to aid recovery of brain function following a stroke or other traumatic brain injury.
Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States with more than 795,000 people suffering a stroke each year, according to the Center for Disease Control. Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability and there is currently no drug treatment for post-stroke rehabilitation. (a copy of the study can be found here: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/11/09/1212584109.abstract)
“Our research suggests that compounds like brevetoxin-2 can augment neuronal plasticity potentially providing a neural repair therapy for stroke recovery. If that outcome can be supported by further studies in animals and subsequently humans, it could have a profound impact on a currently non-treatable condition,” said Thomas F. Murray, Ph.D. associate vice president for Health Science Research and professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Creighton School of Medicine.
Seaweed-based face wash could be an effective cure for acne as researchers have claimed that that an active ingredient from brown seaweed can cut spots by nearly two thirds.
A new clinical trial of treatments containing the ingredient showed that the number of spots fell by 64 per cent whereas blackheads were cut down by 60 per cent just after eight weeks. The trial is the first cosmetics clinical study for acne, which got published in an official dermatology journal. The study investigated products from a wide range of ‘OXY’ treatments using the active compound called Phycosaccharide ACP.
In a trial of 60 young men aged between 14 to 21 years with mild acne, half used seaweed-based skin wash and balm, while the others used dummy products that did not contain the active ingredient.At the end of the trial, after eight weeks, both groups of teenagers showed a reduction in inflammatory spots and comedones (blackheads and whiteheads)The trial found that ‘OXY’ products were significantly more effective than a dummy face wash, scrub or gel.
The Seaweed has been found to contain a powerful active ingredient that could help to beat acne.The active ingredient is extracted out of the brown seaweed ‘Laminaria digitata’, which is found only off the coast of Brittany, France.
The findings have been published in the ‘Clinical and Experimental Dermatology’, an official journal of the British Association of Dermatologists. (ANI)
This spring has seen large extremes in weather patterns from drought to flooding, causing stress to arable crops. But one researcher at University College, Cork, believes a certain chemical found in seaweed could make crops more stress tolerant.
Along with factors such as extremes of temperature, inadequate nutrient supply and excess light intensity fall under the general term of abiotic stress, which can reduce yields by up to 82%.
And a team of researchers at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) at University College, Cork in Ireland, have been researching stress tolerance by plants. In particular, managing abiotic stress, the mechanisms, chemical or genetic, by which the responses to crop stress can be improved.
One approach being investigated is applying Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed extract and this has been trialled in forage maize, spring barley, oilseed rape and maincrop potatoes.
Gel-forming extracts of seaweed have been used in the past in numerous weight loss products as a way to suppress appetite and lose weight. Controversy over false and misleading advertising by some sellers of weight loss pills—as well as pilot studies not detecting weight loss effects—has clouded the issue over whether or not alginates—a seaweed extract—can be beneficial toward fighting obesity. However, a recently reported online study tells us that the effectiveness of alginates toward appetite suppression is dependent upon the source of the alginates and the formulation of the seaweed drink.
Perth, Australia-based Algae.Tec, an advanced algae to biofuels company manufacturing enclosed algae growth and harvesting systems, has announced the commissioning for its showcase biofuels facility, Shoalhaven One, in Nowra, Australia. Algae.Tec Executive Chairman Roger Stroud said the commissioning process was on track for production of algae biomass in early June, ramping up to capacity by the end of June.
NUI Galway’s participation in Energetic Algae project (EnAlgae) investigates algae as sustainable energy sourcePosted On: March 23, 2012
Seaweed is big business in Asia, where it is cultivated and used in a variety of food and beauty products. Nine-tenths of the world’s production for commercial use takes place in China, Japan and Korea. It is also commonly used as a sugar-rich animal feedstock in the US.
Of the 500 species that can be found in Ireland, though, only a small number are harvested. Now researchers in at NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute are taking part in a European collaborative project to investigate the potential of algae as a source of sustainable energy.
Algal bio-energy development is still in its infancy, but NUI Galway’s participation in the Energetic Algae project (EnAlgae), a four-year, €1.2-million initiative which hopes to shed more light on this undervalued resource.
A Halifax biotechnology company is hoping green slime will help its business take flight.
Marine Arctic & Antarctic Technologies Inc. is one of 10 startups that made the shortlist of the Nova Scotia Clean Tech Open, Innovacorp announced Wednesday.
The competition’s goal is to assist a clean technology company in getting established in the province.
Marine Arctic & Antarctic Technologies is developing technology to mass produce micro-algae for use in biofuel and other products.
“It’s like slop,” CEO Mather Carscallen said of the raw material during an interview.
“Some of it smells bad. Some of it doesn’t. It’s pretty much every different smell, shape, colour you could ever imagine.”
The algae would be incubated in a bioreactor that could vary in size and designed to be cost effective, he said.
A technique for quickly encapsulating a drop of liquid to create an edible bead, developed by Nicholas Bremond and colleagues at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry in Paris (ESPCI ParisTech), can package any liquid using a seaweed extract.
Bremond came up with the technique while collaborating with a master chef who wanted to put flavours in small compartments. To create liquid-filled beads, drops are coated with a seaweed solution. Then they’re dropped into a calcium bath containing detergent, which causes the algae to harden and form a shell. Without detergent, the watery coating would still gel, but it would quickly mix with its liquid contents.
Beyond culinary creations, Bremond is using the method to package cancer cells and study them in a 3D environment. The permeable beads prevent cell contamination, while allowing drugs to flow in.
Godrej Agrovet, a subsidiary of Godrej Industries, has launched a horticulture crop growth-booster nutrient Dripzyme, a seaweed extract-based product formulated for drip irrigation crops.
Dripzyme, the company said, helps in growth of additional branches, flower and fruit buds resulting in higher yield. It helps in creating an extended root system, giving plants greater access to nutrients and water in the soil, thereby enhancing the nutritional value of the yield. It not only improves quality of produce but also aids in saving labour, time and aids in better absorption of nutrients from soil, the company said in a press release.