Extraction and characterization of BIOactives and CARBohydrates from seaweeds and seagrasses FOR FOOD-related applications

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Introduction / Background

Carbohydrates are the most important source of food energy in the world being also key ingredients for food formulations, serving as thickeners, stabilizers and gelling agents or providing functional attributes. Functional and technological properties of polysaccharides depend on composition, structure and physicochemical characteristics, defined by source and extraction method employed.

Seaweeds and seagrasses are a valuable and under-exploited source of carbohydrates, in particular, cell wall polysaccharides (phycocolloids), and bioactive compounds such as polyphenols or carotenoids. Current industrial procedures used by European companies for carbohydrate extraction from seaweeds are highly inefficient to process time, water and energy requirements. The remaining biomass (generally much more than 50% of the initial material) is used as compost or simply disposed of as organic waste.



The ERA-NET SusFood2 project BIOCARB-4-FOOD aims, in close collaboration with industry, at novel, environmentally friendly and efficient extraction techniques (ultrasound, microwave, enzymes and their combinations), combined with the exploitation of the remaining biomass, rich in bioactive compounds, to sequentially obtain novel carbohydrate-based extracts and fibers (nanocellulose) from seaweeds and seagrasses. Characterization of structure, technological properties, toxicity and bioactivity of the fractions and a life cycle assessment (LCA) will also be conducted for proving the sustainability of the procedures.

Expected results

The ERA-NET SusFood2 project BIOCARB-4-FOOD project expected to contribute to improved process efficiency, development of ingredients with high added value from already commercialized seaweed species and from under-exploited sources (seagrasses) which can positively impact in the competitiveness of seaweed, food and non-food companies at EU scale by a better valorization of raw materials and extracted remnants.


Carbohydrates, bioactives, algae, novel extraction processes, valorization


Group photo BIOCARB4FOOD

Project consortium

Coordinated by

Dr. Amparo López-Rubio - Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA-CSIC) SPAIN  


  • NORWAY: Nofima AS 
  • IRELAND: Teagasc
  • GERMANY: University of Hohenheim
  • SWEDEN: RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

Runtime project

The BIOCARB-4-FOOD project started on 01/09/2018 and runs until 31/08/2021.

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Research articles