by Sara Sanz

The SEACOLORS project receives the BEST LIFE ENVIRONMENT PROJECT AWARD during EU Green Week, the largest environmental event in Europe. EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella announced the winners of the 2016 and 2017 LIFE Awards and the nine winners include projects from Belgium, Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Poland and Slovakia.

The main objective of the LIFE SEACOLORS project is to obtain natural dyes from a sustainable and renewable source, such as micro and macro algae, and then to use them in the textile industry to replace synthetic dyes.

Algae represent a source of natural dyes for the textile industry, without generating the level of contamination produced by the synthetic dyes in widespread use today, or the disadvantages posed by natural dyes obtained from other plants, which require large areas for cultivation and have a very low pigment content.

The biological characteristics of algae and current cultivation techniques that are being developed around the world, mean that algae are emerging as a potential candidate as a source of dyes. Macro and micro algae are cultivated with different objectives: as food, to purify water or as an energy source, but they can also be used to obtain vitamins, fatty acids, dyes and stabilising agents, among other products with more functional applications.

The starting point for SEACOLORS was the identification and selection of strains of macro and microalgae from which pigments could be extracted and then evaluated for textile applications.

Micro and macroalgae pigments are extracted from the different active compounds, including carotenoids and phycobiliproteins in their molecular structure which produce the colour. The resulting natural and renewable dyes are an alternative to synthetic dyes, and turn the dyeing process into a procedure which is more environmentally friendly and cost effective, particularly with regard to reducing waste water treatment. In addition, the biomass generated during the extraction of dyes can be reused in other activities, such as the production of metabolites (as antioxidants or polysaccharides), for agricultural applications or as ingredients in food and feed for animals (concept of biorefinery).

The project is coordinated by AITEX, with the collaboration of Produção e Comercialização de algas and its derivatives Lda (AlgaPlus), Banco Español de Algas- Las Palmas de Gran Canaria University (BEA) and Spanish Association of Biocompanies (ASEBIO)


LIFE SEACOLORS is funded by the European Commission through the LIFE program. File number LIFE 13 ENV / ES / 000445

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