Algae for dinner anyone?


Staff member
A new wave of superfoods are being cultivated in Adelaide labs in the hope it'll provide alternative ways to sustainably feed the world's increasing population.

A team of Flinders University scientists have developed alternative proteins to consume, but instead of meat, food products like caviar, vegan patties, plant-based meats, jelly, jams and spreads have been developed from marine microalgae.

The substance is usually found in the ocean, but scientists at the university have been cultivating it in labs and turning it into consumable forms.

Artist in residence Niki Sperou has helped scientists develop these prototypes in the hope it will be rolled out industrially.

"We're able to manipulate the raw materials to mimic just about anything that's out there on the market, we just play with the textures and the flavours and we can find something that is attractive and palatable to most people," Ms Sperou said.

She said the team had even developed "algae-mite" and although the microalgae product tastes like seaweed in its raw form, new technologies can alter flavours to make it taste like anything.

"People are looking for a different way to eat, something that is sustainable, healthy and ethical, and marine microalgae can fill in the gaps for people seeking primarily a plant-based diet," she said.
Algae manipulated for different uses
Professor Wei Zhang said microalgae could be manipulated to become protein dominant and nutrient rich, providing health benefits for the consumer.

"We have the ability to change its composition and therefore its fit for different food and nutritional applications," Mr Zhang said.

Research engineer Peng Su said their team can even control how it behaves after being eaten.

"I can function how long or how fast I want those nutrients to be released in my body according to my need," Mr Su said.
Mr Su said coffee, for example, could be encapsulated within micro-algae balls and manipulated to be released slowly.

"I can have coffee [in ball-shaped products] and still have the benefits of coffee, but have it slowly released over 24 hours, so I won't get a headache," he said.

Researcher praises green benefits
Senior researcher Kirsten Heimann said most importantly, the product significantly reduces humankind's carbon footprint.

"Microalgae are really well equipped to clean up the mess we create, like absorb carbon dioxide," Ms Heimann said.

"They're much better than plants, they fix about 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of dry weight bio-mass created.
"That's enormous — that's equivalent to a rainforest.

"We need to find alternative sources of protein that actually draw down the carbon dioxide and supply the high-quality food for a healthy human population."


Staff member
Wow ... they can make it taste and feel like anything out there .. as well as provide all the nutrients we need. Amazing stuff.