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New Zealand

Kiwi Collaboration Turns Seaweed Waste Into Premium Products

Combining indigenous Maori knowledge with mainstream science and biotechnology, Kiwi’s collaboration has opened the door to premium markets by discovering a method to extract nanocellulose from seaweed waste.

Nanocellulose can be turned into high-value hydrogels and used in a variety of products, including batteries, adhesives, biomedical products, and cosmetics.

The partnership was between Crown Research Institute Scion and AgriSea. AgriSea is a Paeroa-based family-owned company that has been transforming certain New Zealand seaweed species into products for the country’s agricultural and horticultural industries for decades.

Scion is a government-owned company that conducts scientific research for the benefit of New Zealand. Scion specializes in research, scientific and technological development in forestry, wood and wood-derived materials, and other biomaterials fields.

the beginning of an idea

The collaboration began in 2017 when AgriSea’s Clare and Tane Bradley met Scion researchers Dr. Marie-Joo Le Guen and Dr. Stefan Hill at Matariki X, a symposium bringing together Maori innovators, entrepreneurs and researchers. It started when

A casual conversation about extracting nanocellulose from seaweed waste has led to a productive partnership now spanning five years.

Seaweed is one of the most complex substances known to mankind, and Ecklonia radiata, a seaweed native to New Zealand, contains zinc, iodine, cobalt, copper and sodium.

AgriSea products are 100% natural nutrient systems made from seaweed that support New Zealand’s agriculture, viticulture, beekeeping and horticulture industries.

AgriSea CEO Claire Bradley says working with Scion as an industry partner in the early research phase required her company to take a leap of faith. high value product.

Nanocellulose can be used in a variety of products, including batteries, adhesives, biomedical products, and cosmetics.

Jellied seaweed-based nanocellulose hydrogel.Photo: Honor Award

traditionally wood pulp area

Most of the world supply of nanocellulose is produced using wood pulp. Leveraging Scion’s expertise in wood pulp manufacturing, collaborators explored ways to create this versatile polymer from seaweed and kelp, resulting in environmentally superior products and benefits for AgriSea’s business and the wider marine industry. We have created products that add economic value to the aquaculture industry.

“The concept of being able to make crystals from seaweed was difficult to calculate at first,” says Clare.

“But Stephane and Marie Joux are such wonderful people and behind the scenes we started a commercial relationship.

“What drives us forward is our aligned values ​​and vision. Psion has made it clear that they want to do the best science possible, and we are committed to making science commercially We wanted to develop new products,” says Claire.

AgriSea Guardian Key

Equally important to AgriSea, it wants to be a superior kaitiaki (guardian) of its whenua and natural resources at the heart of a family-owned seaweed company that has been providing biostimulants to farmers and fish farmers for over 25 years. It was my wish. .

If you want to grow a seaweed sector in Aotearoa, you need high value, unique products from natural resources. At the same time, we want to be good ancestors for our grandchildren. Designing these products out of current waste stream processes meets both of these objectives,” Clare says.

As Kaitiaki on land, the company is ambitious in growing the sustainable aquaculture industry by creating new high-value products from current waste stream processes. For Scion, the partnership with AgriSea is an example of research focused on developing renewable, bio-based products as a way for the industry to tackle climate change.

Psion is at the forefront of a nationwide effort to transition New Zealand to a ‘circular’ bioeconomy as a means of tackling climate change and limiting reliance on products made from fossil fuels.

New facility planned in Paeroa

Seaweed nanocellulose has unique properties not found in tree-derived nanocellulose. This technology has been licensed to AgriSea to continue hydrogel development.

Paeroa will be home to the world’s first commercial seaweed nanocellulose facility at AgriSea, creating nine full-time roles in the $1.5 million project. Scion created his design for the biorefinery concept and is currently working with Callahan Innovation to develop the final design prior to construction.

If the business takes off, we will diversify and produce commercial quantities of nanocellulose hydrogels using leftovers from manufacturing seaweed-based agricultural and horticultural products to maximize value from this sustainable resource. is pulled out.

Both New Zealand and offshore have robust markets for hydrogel products, including high performance biocomposites, cosmetics, wound care and tissue engineering.

Project wins two awards

AgriSea and Scion’s collaboration was recognized with two recent National Science Awards.

AgriSea received the coveted NZ Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau – Māori Company of the Year Award for 2022 at a gala event in Wellington in August.

Sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, the award highlights collaboration with the company’s Scion scientists to develop new seaweed hydrogels as part of its mission to create a high-value, sustainable seaweed industry in Aotearoa.

Claire Bradley says the award is a testament to the benefits that come from combining indigenous knowledge with mainstream science and biotechnology.

The award not only shows that indigenous knowledge and science rooted in natural and renewable resources can compete and win against other technology industries, but also comes from combining and respecting different knowledge sets. It also highlights strengths. “

In her speech at the High Tech Awards, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted the opportunity for New Zealand businesses to not only provide ‘the best technology in the world’, but also ‘the best technology in the world’.

Clare Bradley firmly believes that the collaboration between AgriSea and Scion will achieve that goal.

“Our challenge to business now is to talk to more people outside of our expertise, learn from each other, and collaborate more,” she says.

“We are a small country, but together we can benefit the world.”

Dr. Stefan Hill, portfolio lead for Scion’s high-value biorefineries, said the research with AgriSea is on the path to industry uptake by developing renewable bio-based products to replace traditional petrochemical-based products. It is an exciting example that provides

“It has been a privilege and continues today for Scion to support AgriSea’s mission to create a high-value, sustainable aquaculture industry,” he said.

“Clare and Tane share our vision of what can be achieved by mechanically processing seaweed to extract nanocellulose and use it to manufacture hydrogels for a variety of products and industries. I’m glad you did.

“Their unique knowledge, combined with our scientific excellence, has resulted in a highly credible, world-leading collaboration.”

The following month, AgriSea and Scion jointly won the Hill Laboratories Primary Industry Award at the 2021 Kudos Awards in Hamilton in September.

Scion and AgriSea were commended for leveraging Scion’s pulping expertise and AgriSea’s 26 years of experience in seaweed processing to create a seaweed hydrogel.

The Kudos Science Trust Awards are New Zealand’s most prestigious regional science awards and underpin Waikato and the Bay of Plenty’s reputation as key incubators of creative research discovery and cutting-edge technology.

The region is home to a thriving and expanding scientific is the center of

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