14 Best Uses of Algae You Should Know
Check Out Every Use We Have For Algae
Algae has naturally evolved to produce and store energy in oil form.
Currently, the efficiency of algae at storing energy is higher than any other natural or engineered process we know.
The more we study these small aquatic organisms, the more benefits we are finding they have to offer us.
Whether you know it or not, there is a good chance that some of the items you use require algae.
But first, what is algae?
Algae is made up of a diverse set of organisms from microscopic cyanobacteria to enormous kelp.
They can be brown, red, or green depending on the depth of the water, temperature, and water type.
These guys convert the sunlight into energy by using photosynthesis.
So keep reading to see all the different uses algae currently has to offer us.
Industrial Uses Of Algae
Greenhouse Gas Reduction - CO2 Removal
Algae are capable of converting the carbon dioxide in our air into a raw oil used in the production of carbon fiber.
They naturally absorb high amounts of CO2 while releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere.
One of the industries future goals is to use the carbon fibers created from algae for the production of structural steel in our construction materials and tools.
The algae carbon fiber is also getting looked at as a way to possibly fill in empty mining sites.
By burying these items, it allows us to keep the CO2 we gathered in the ground instead of getting released back into our atmosphere.
The best part is that these algae fibers that we are creating are no different from our conventional fibers.
Since they are the same fibers, they will work in all our existing carbon fiber processes.
Uses Of Algae Fuel
The primary benefit of using algae as a renewable energy source has to do with its enormous production capabilities.
It gets estimated that algae will be able to produce at a minimum of 10 times up to 60 times more biofuel than the traditional crops we are using.
It gets estimated that one single acre of algae can produce as much as 5,000 gallons of biofuel.
Once collected, we can then process the algae into the raw material needed to make car, truck, train, and plan fuels.
While algae have been used in many industries from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals for years, it is just recently making a lot of noise in the sustainable energy environmental sectors.
Algae And Wastewater Treatment
Algae can rapidly convert harmful elements like nitrogen and phosphorus from contaminated water into renewable biomass.
The biomass can then be used and processed into biofuel or one of algae's many other uses.
Companys are continually working on systems to process the water waste from our agriculture and industrial sectors.
With these new biological processes, we can transform the waste from these industries into a renewable energy source.
By using algae as a raw material for plastic production, we can now turn plastic processing into a way of helping to remove CO2 from the air.
CO2 reduction is the opposite of today's plastic processing practices. Most of our traditional plastic processes create and release high levels of CO2 into our atmosphere.
To create a pound of plastic, it takes about a pound and a half of dried, pressed algae.
Seaweed plastics are also being looked at by the industry. These will be capable fo dissolving in water hundreds of times faster than their traditional plastic counterparts.
Having a plastic that is capable of degrading in water instead of just breaking into smaller pieces is essential for the well being of our aquatic life.
Other experts beleive that while algae as plastic is an exciting idea, they beleive we are still far from a production-ready solution.
Issues with algae selection and the ability to collect the molecules out of the algae broth are proving difficult.
Others think that scaling up the process to the needed required industrial levels will prove difficult in the long run.
Commercial Uses Of Algae
Uses Of Algae In Daily Life
Many products that we use or consume daily have had algae in one form or another added to them.
Algae are most commonly used to help thicken foods and boost the abundance of healthy bacteria that get contained in them(for North Americans at least).
Daily Life Products Containing Algae
- Dairy Products
- Food Thickeners
- Soup Broths
Large Production Capable
Algae Grow Really Fast
Unlike many of the different current crops used in mass production like soy, corn, etc. these require a full season before we can reap their rewards.
Algae, on the other hand, can double their numbers every couple of hours and even get harvested daily.
So we can use this to produce a large amount of biomass material in short periods, especially when we compare it to the time it takes our other crops.
Algae In Medicine
Marine macro-algae is the primary type currently getting used in medicine.
macro-algae are multicellular marine algae and form a real plant.
This group of algae has a vast spectrum of uses.
- Antifouling And Antioxidant Activities
Using Algae for medicine is nothing new, though. Different algae have been getting used in Chinese Folk (herbal medicine) for over 2000 years.
Only recently have their scientific applications been realized with backing evidence.
The antioxidants gathered from marine algae are a primary treatment that gets used in the later stages of cancer development.
Research is getting conducted with hopes that they will cause regression of lesions showing cancer properties, also known as premalignant.
Algae provides the key antioxidants used to fight cancer, chronic inflammation, atherosclerosis, HIV, and cardiovascular disorder.
Brown and red algae are currently the primary types getting tested for the development of new antiviral medications.
Many different factors will determine the algae characteristics and properties. From the type of organism used to the season and conditions they get grown in, will all affect the end product getting cultivated.
Uses Of Algae In Agriculture
Land Is Not Necessarily Required
Seaweed or Macroalgaeif grow in water, and this helps reduce the amount of land needed to produce a biomass crop.
Unlike most crops, this allows the production of the plant without having to compete and pay the price for fertile farming land.
Not having to pay out for top rated farming land can help companies significantly reduce the overhead cost of entry.
Seaweed sugars are commonly used to get converted into biofuels and extraction of there chemicals.
Seaweed can also help to increase the production of food to help us feed more of our population.
If we can create large algae farms in the waters, it could allow us to reclaim many farming fields for human consumption instead of bioplastics and fuels.
Algae Can Get Grown On Damp Land
Certain algae types can get cultivated on land that is not acceptable for many of our other crop types.
Unlike many plants, certain algae will thrive in wastewater from domestic, industrial, and agricultural processes. Instead of hurting the algae as it does to most crops, these water sources act as a source of energy for microalgae to grow.
So many damp locations that are no longer suitable for most of our other crop types may still be ideal as an algae production site.
Uses Of Algae In Food
Algae are an indirect source of food for us since they feed a large portion of our marine life.
A real benefit that algae offer over other plants that we eat is the fact that they can contain a complete amino acid profile.
Because of these acids, algae can help to support us and our immune system in ways that typical plants are just not able.
While some types of algae can get added into our diets, the vast majority of algae species are not suitable for us to eat.
So here are 11 most common algae types that are currently getting used in foods for our consumption.
It is getting tested for mass-scale production as a viable food source. It has high nutritional value with 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fiber, and 10% minerals and vitamins. Most common algae getting used in dietary supplements.
Porphyra (Red Alga)
It has high in protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins and is the most commonly used algae getting ate by people.
Red algae commonly called sea lettuce flakes. It contains all of the different trace minerals and 20 % protein. Unfortunately, it lacks any amino acids.
Laminaria (Brown Alga)
Commercial production uses stones, cylinders, and ropes to cultivate it.
Alaria (Brown Alga)
Used for its high levels of protein and iodine.
Nostoc (Blue-green Algae)
Has some protein and is rich with vitamin C.
Monostroma (green Alga)
Flat and leafy with 20% protein and high vitamin and mineral content.
Ulva (green Alga)
Rich in Iron and in Protein.
It has High in protein with low fat and sodium levels.
High contents of protein, fiber and folic acids.
- Durvillaea Antarctica
Many people believe that algae will help us to provide a large portion of the worlds protein requirements in the future.
Many experts believe that over the next 10 to 20 years, algae protein will take a significant market portion of both meat and plant-based sectors.
While there are plant-based proteins like the Impossible burger, many people are learning and disliking that this burger is a GMO. The burger is using a genetically engineered home ingredient in its recipe.
Tritons Algae Burger, on the other hand, has a natural algae protein added to its burger that is virtually identical to the impossible GMO ingredient.
Because of all the different proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and trace mineral available in different algae manufacturers are using them to produce different supplements.
It is also becoming a common ingredient in many detox programs. In animal studies, it shows the ability to reduce heavy metal toxicity of the liver, brain, and kidneys.
One small study showed that men who were taking algae(chlorella specifically) produced more antibodies than the subjects who were part of a placebo(fake pills) group.
Algae Cooking Oil
Algae cooking oil is an extracted oil just like canola but has a significant difference when you compare their healthy fat contents.
Companies like TerraVia are crossbreeding hundreds of different algae strains.
The specific strains are selected to help develop oils with desirable fat characteristics.
Use Of Algae As Fodder
The list of items that are safe for people to consume is also a possible food source that can get used for feeding our animal supply chains.
The idea of using algae to feed livestock is already getting done by Great Britan, France, Uk, and Japan.
Since Algae do not require the same level of nutrients in the soil. We can now take our lands that have lost most of there nutritional value to grow algae.
Use Of Algae As Biofertilizer / Fertilizer
Algae contain rich sources of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus that can quickly break down into the soil.
More and more farmers are looking at incorporating algae into their soil.
Using algae as a fertilizer is helping farms to reduce the number of chemicals that they need to apply to their crops.
I was surprised to see just how many different uses algae is currently providing us.
Especially all the different possibilities it is starting to provide our medical field.
Many of us see it as that nasty scum growing in our ponds or the slimy seaweed that feels weird on our feet.
But once you understand there are thousands of different strains in the world. Many of which are not slimy or stinky like the types many of us North Americans are used to seeing.
It is pretty exciting to see all the different benefits these little aquatic organisms are starting to offer us.
Scientists are continually testing different types of algae under many different growing conditions.
This work is helping the industry to find the most useful strains and efficient methods of cultivating them.
The field is quickly expanding from small craft production into a new industrial sector.
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