The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO NV) is a research Institute that implements client-driven research projects and develops innovative products and processes. The multidisciplinary skills and technological know-how of more than 600 researchers make this organization a crossroad of technology, where state-of-the-art technologies are successfully blended into practical applications. The business unit Separation and Conversion Technology (SCT) has organized its strategic research program around the theme ‘Sustainable Chemistry’. The unit has specific experience, a 20-year long tradition and an international reputation in technology development in the field of membranes and bioprocessing. One research line is dedicated to algae biomass, where VITO focusses on the development of harvesting & water recycling technologies, on cell disruption and cascading approaches for separating the algae components. Also tailoring of molecules using enzymatic processes in combination with membrane separation is a core activity.
Within ValgOrize, VITO is involved in the enzymatic processing of seaweed sugars (WP1) and the harvesting of micro-algae (WP2). In respect to seaweeds, enzymatic depolymerization of polysaccharides extracted from the seaweed is being studied to generate smaller sized oligomers. These from ulvan and fucoidan generated oligomers will be tested for their prebiotic and antioxidant activity. In addition, their effect on the taste of the seaweed will be investigated. For the micro-algae part, the membrane-based VITO MAF-technology is being used for harvesting and desalting of micro-algae, including fragile species without a cell wall. The generated freeze-dried algae powders are being used for taste trials within ValgOrize.