Seaweed. (Photo: FIA)
Seaweed, ideal raw material for cosmetics
Friday, July 27, 2012, 02:30 (GMT + 9)
A project presented by the company Bioingemar intends to capitalize the defense mechanism against UV radiation that algae have so as to produce cosmetics, such as cream, lotion, shampoo and sunscreen.
This initiative is co-financed by the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA) under the Ministry of Agriculture.
The project is developed in the Bío Bío Region and includes the work of 45 seaweed collectors of the creek Llico province of Arauco.
"One of the main resources of this area is seaweed, which is collected by women and sold to wholesale buyers at a price between CLP 100 (USD 0.20) and CLP 200 (USD 0.40) per kilo," Viana Beratto, the project coordinator, points out.
"These trading conditions have generated a deficit of resources, creating a vicious cycle of poverty that has prevented the reconversion to more profitable activities," she added.
Led by the great potential algae have and the interest of the domestic and foreign cosmetic industry, this company will sample all the species produced in Llico, among which the best-known are kelp, ‘pelillo’ (garciolaria sp.) and sea lettuce.
Scientists choose the three species of algae that have the highest concentrations of micosporine amino acids in their cells. These molecules are photo-protectors produced by algae as a defense mechanism against UV radiation.
Amino acids act as a passive screen that thermally dissipates the absorbed UV energy, FIA explains.
Throughout 2012, Bioingemar will work on the characterization of seaweed and initiate activities to optimize the extraction and purification of micosporine.
The initiators of the project also expect to increase the micosporine concentration level in marine algae and to improve the quality of the raw material.
"Experience tells us that our research could lead to obtaining micosporine for cosmetic purposes, from seaweed produced on our shores, with high yields and quality," Beratto comments.
To publicize the launch of this project, the firm plans to visit cosmetic fairs In Cosmetic and Cosmprof in Europe and HBA in New York, US.
Worldwide sales of cosmetic products move more than USD 382,000 million annually while in Chile they generate about USD 2,200 million.
By Analia Murias