UWB Crest

Novel Ingredients from Seaweed Extracts (NISE)

Historic and Cultural Context

Centries of use

There is a long history of seaweeds being collected by hand for various uses. In coastal regions around the world nori /Purple laver (Porphyra), dulse (Palmaria palmata), carageenan (Chondrus crispus), Kombu (Laminaria japonica) and Kombu ‘Royale’ (Saccharina latissima) were and still are an intrinsic part of the traditional diet providing much needed vitamins and minerals to winter diets in centuries past. Historically, seaweeds have provided an abundant source of useful compounds. Commonly brown seaweeds, like Ascophyllum, Ecklonia and Fucus that were washed up on the shore, were collected and applied to nearby land as a fertilizer. In the 1600s, extraction of soda, potash and iodine from these brown seaweed, as well as kelp species, provided a ready supply of useful chemicals for the British isles. 

Later applications of seaweed extracts

Later in the 1930s seaweeds were exploited as a source of alginates. Alginates are useful carbohydrates,  which due to their water holding properties are used today as gelling agents, emulsifiers, stabilisers and thickeners, used in multiple industries; for thickening soups, drinks, ice cream and various cosmetics as well as in the production of jellies and gel-like foods. It is used in the weight loss industry as an appetite suppressant and used in various pharmaceutical preparations such as Gaviscon as a gelling agent, and for thickening. Alginate is used extensively as an impression-making material in dentistry and prosthetics and is used for waterproofing, fireproofing and dyeing fabrics and carpets.