Professor Charlotte Munch Jacobsen has received research funding totalling over 6 million Danish Kroner (more than €800,000) from the Independent Research Fund Denmark for a project on microalgae.
In a world combating climate change, finding sustainable, environmentally friendly foodstuffs that will ensure adequate protein in our diets is crucial. Microalgae, which are a type of microscopic phytoplankton, are bursting with protein – in some species, protein makes up nearly 70% of their dry weight. But they are currently not suitable for industrial production in a country like Denmark.
Prof Jacobsen, based at the Technical University of Denmark, is looking to change that. With her new project, Making microalgae a sustainable future source of proteins and vitamins (MASSPROVIT), she aims to tackle the hurdles currently holding microalgae back: the growth speed must be increased, as must the crop yield and the bioavailability, which is the proportion of protein and vitamin that can be taken up by the human body. It’s also a priority for her to develop the perfect combination of different microalgae to cover human needs for essential amino acids and various vitamins.
One key aspect of the project is the calculation of its carbon footprint and how it compares to that of soy and animal production, two main sources of protein at the moment. Prof Jacobsen hopes that the project could become the foundation of a new Nordic diet, which would be significantly better for the environment and the planet.
(© Emilie Steinmark / AcademiaNet / Spektrum.de)