Seaweed can be Processed into Sugar and Bioethanol beside Carrageenan

Nov 23, 2021 | News

Indonesia is a country that produces the largest cottonii seaweed in the world. Unfortunately, Indonesia is also the largest importer of processed seaweed products, especially carrageenan products. Indonesia should be a leader for the seaweed industry and its derivatives, especially for the cottonii species.

In the pre-scientific press conference on August 05th , Professor of the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences (FPIK) IPB University, Prof. Uju, introduced the biorefinery approach to developing the potential and use of carrageenophyte cottonii seaweed. “Kappaphycus (cottonii) seaweed besides being able to produce carrageenan can also produce other biochemical materials. Namely, phycoerythrin pigment, cellulose, fertilizer, bioethanol, sugar and other biochemical products that have high selling and added value for the carrageenan processing industry,” he said.

According to Prof. Uju, this phycoerythrin is widely used as a colorant in food, medicine, and cosmetics. The price can reach the US $ 3.45-14/milligram. To extract the phycoerythrin pigment, it is generally carried out by maceration at low temperatures. So it takes a long time, more than 24 hours.

“We used ultrasonication acceleration to extract the phycoerythrin pigment. It turns out that this method can shorten the extraction process four times faster and the concentration of pigment produced is 1.6 times higher than the ordinary maceration process (a simple purification process with ammonium sulfate produces a purity of 1.2 (food grade). This purity can still be increased for the index to obtain the purity index of pharmaceutical products,” said the lecturer, who is also the Head of the Department of Aquatic Products Technology, FPIK IPB University.

According to him, another problem and challenge that arises in the refined carrageenan industry is the high cost of the carrageenan refining process. Purification using alcohol will produce better quality carrageenan and a higher price. Prof. Uju said that this process requires a large volume of alcohol. That is 1.5 – 4 times the volume of the seaweed extract filtrate.

“We are trying to apply a microfiltration process. And this innovation, we can reduce the cost of using alcohol 4.5-12 times so that the production for the precipitation process can be reduced. The microfiltration process can also significantly improve the purity of refined carrageenan. The resulting gel becomes stronger and can meet the standards set by FAO-JECFA,” he explained.

In addition, in the hands of Prof. Uju, solid carrageenan waste can be processed into biosugar and bioethanol. According to him, this solid carrageenan waste has lower lignin content and 34 percent cellulose content. This level is close to the level of land plant biomass so that it becomes biosugar (glucose) and bioethanol.

“We utilize the ionic liquid [Hpy][Cl] pretreatment technology to convert carrageenan solid waste cellulose into sugar quickly, efficiently and more environmentally friendly. The processing of carrageenan solid waste into bioethanol also has a high conversion value with production costs that are competitive with bioethanol made from sugar cane and starches,” he said. (Zul) (IAAS/MFR)