Associate professor Fredrik Gröndahl is the Head of Department of the newly created Department of Sustainable Development Environmental Science and Engineering (SEED) at the School of Architecture and Built Environment, KTH Stockholm, Sweden. He has a background as a marine biologist and during the last 5-6 years, the research focus have been on developing methods to evaluate process chains from both wild harvesting and cultivation of algae to the end products from a sustainability perspective. He is the project leader of the strategic Swedish research project for a bio-based society SEAFARM, dealing with cultivation of macro algae for bio refinery processes.
Results and future perspectives of the Seafarm project
Seaweed farming circumvents several disadvantages related to land-based biomass production, e.g. the need for fertilizers and irrigation, and does not compete for valuable arable land. In addition, seaweeds grow fast and their farming counteracts coastal eutrophication. The overreaching goal of SEAFARM is to develop a sustainable system for the use of seaweeds as a renewable resource in a future bio based Swedish society. The trans disciplinary research approach includes techniques for cultivating seaweeds to be used as raw material in a bio refinery for the production of food, feed, bio based materials and bioenergy. A holistic approach is used where utilization of the resource is maximized in each step of the cycle. Seaweeds are cultivated at the Swedish west coast and methods suitable for preservation and storage are evaluated. The obtained biomass will subsequently be fractionated in an integrated bio refinery. The different fractions are thoroughly characterized and recovered for production of biochemical, polymers, and food/feed additives. The residues from the bio refinery are utilized for production of biogas and bio fertilizers. In parallel, a general multi-process sustainable assessment method is developed to analyse the overall sustainability of the system. The multi-disciplinary research team collaborates closely with a set of state agencies, commercial enterprises and other stakeholders in the different tasks of the project.