THE DRYLGAE SYSTEM
We are currently developing our first product : a bio-inspired seaweed dryer that uses solar energy to effectively and quickly dry seaweed while preserving its bioactive compounds. Our aim is to provide a drying solution that can be implemented directly on the harvesting site and suited to the needs of emerging seaweed farming companies, more sensitive to sustainability challenges.
A bio-inspired seaweed dryer.
The growth of global seaweed biomass production
Seaweeds are promising sustainable resources for a wide range of applications, from human consumption to the pharmaceutical industry. Over the last 5 years seaweed production has dramatically increased because of the growing demand of western countries. However, seaweed farming still relies on energy intensive protocols that need to be optimized to reduce its environmental footprint.
Optimizing the drying process
After investigating the details of seaweed production and post-harvest treatments, we identified the drying process as the one with the most room for optimization. The current methods are either complex and energy consuming (oven drying, lyophilisation) or rudimental and uncontrolled conditions.
This animal is living mostly in arid environments, thus having to spare every single drop of water it can. To retain as much water as possible, camel nasal cavities have evolved convoluted, cooled, hygroscopic surface that enhance condensation of moisture when air passes through.
Reproducing this feature can increase macroscopic water condensation of the air stream.
HERCULES BEETLE EXOSKELETON
This beetle can passively change the colour of its elytra from yellow to black under high humidity levels to enhance its camouflage capacity. Its cuticle is made out of a micro-scale three-dimensional chitin filament network that captures humidity passively.
Emulating this material as a dehumidifier will further reduce relative humidity of the air stream.
This insect needs to avoid any unwanted reflection of light and detection from predators. Its eyes have an anti-reflective coating consisting of nanoscale dome structures smaller than the wavelength of visible light that act as a region of graded refractive index between the ambient medium and the interface.
These structures inspired an anti-reflective coating that maximizes the solar radiation absorption and thus maximizes solar heating.
AN INNOVATION AIMING FOR DURABILITY
Our seaweed dryer offers a low-cost and user-friendly biomass drying technology, easy to implement anywhere, promoting food security for coastal communities relying on marine natural resources.
Our drying units can be combined to match any scale of seaweed production, enabling us to enlarge our customer segments. Drylgae will favor the democratization of seaweed as a sustainable primary resource in many sectors such as bio-fuels or bio-plastics. Because of the energy efficiency of our concept, prices of processed seaweeds is going to decrease, making it a more affordable primary resource.
By solely relying on renewable solar energy, the environmental impact of our system is reduced compared to other existing technologies. The simplicity of our solution allows it to be implemented close to seaweed farms, solving the logistical challenge of transporting tons of wet seaweed with heavy machinery. CO₂ emissions due to transportation are reduced.