Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Kelp Blue

Unlocking the ocean's potential with kelp forests


The plants are harvested for use in nutraceuticals, animal feed supplements, and biodegradable packaging

Spotted: A new global research initiative is investigating the carbon sequestration potential of kelp, with particular attention being paid to giant kelp because of its ability to grow up to two feet in a day. That incredible growth rate is being put to use by Kelp Blue.

Kelp Blue plants kelp forests in deep ocean water to draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. As the kelp grows, it uses far more carbon dioxide than it does nitrogen, making the mature plants extremely effective tools for carbon sequestration. And thanks to the high growth rates of the plants, crops can be harvested up to seven times a year.

Kelp is an especially low-resource crop, requiring no arable land, no fresh water, and no pesticides or other chemicals. It is also an ecosystem engineer that supports biodiversity by providing a habitat for multitudes of marine life. The company uses an unmanned ocean harvester to trim the canopy only, leaving the bulk of the plant below water to maximise the ecosystem benefits of such a large forest.

In addition to helping communities develop their bluewater farming capabilities and long-term job stability in a growing market, Kelp Blue works with university students to push forward research progress and data analysis of the entire process of farming giant kelp.

The compounds found within kelp are so beneficial to human and animal health that Kelp Blue sells a range of products through its commercial company Kelp Blue Biotech. The production process of the ingredients is zero waste, with all parts of the plant used. From pharmaceuticals to nutraceuticals, animal feed supplements, and natural fertilisers, giant kelp is an incredibly valuable ingredient that increases the sustainability and healthfulness of many different products. Additionally, alginates, which are found only in brown seaweed, are used to make biodegradable packaging.

Kelp Blue currently has six hectares of forests across locations in Namibia, New Zealand, and Alaska and plans to expand to more than 800 hectares by 2026, including some in Chile. By 2030, the company plans to be sequestering around 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from at least 6,000 hectares of kelp forest.

Innovations in Springwise’s library show the range of applications of seaweed, with textiles and underwater bricks only two of the many new uses being created.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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