• Extraction of Bioactives
    From Green Seaweed
    With Celignis Bioprocess


Bioactive compounds are defined as chemicals, typically found in small amounts in biomass, that have actions in the body that can promote good health. As a result, many bioactive compounds are considered to be highly valuable in the food, feed, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries.

Many bioactives and other high-value plant constituents can be considered to be a part of the biomass extractives, which are defined as extraneous components that may be separated from the insoluble cell wall material by their solubility in water or neutral organic solvents.

Click here to learn more about the ways in which bioprocesses can be developed to efficiently and sustainably extract these extractives from biomass, with particular selectivity towards the bioactives and chemicals of interest.

Get more info...Extraction Processes

Bioactives in Green Seaweed

Green seaweed, also known as Chlorophyta, is a group of green algae that thrive in both marine and freshwater environments. The green colour comes from chlorophyll (predominately from chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b, however some seaweeds can also contain chlorophyll c). Green seaweeds can also contain other pigments, for example carotenoids, which can influence their overall appearance.

Some common types of green seaweed include sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca), dead man's fingers (Codium), and hair algae (Cladophora).

Ulvan is a polysaccharide, unique to green seaweeds, that is a water-soluble hetero-polysaccharide composed of rhamnose, glucuronic acid and xyloglucan.

Therapeutic applications of ulvan are in great demand for pharmaceutical and food applications due to its immune-stimulating, anti-viral, and anti-cancer activities.

The aqueous extract of green seaweed can be rich in pigments, vitamins and polyphenols and is sometimes used for cosmetic applications. Ulva extract is also a rich source of hormones and minerals and is used as a plant-growth stimulator. Additionally, the fatty acid profile of green seaweeds is unique with high levels of alpha linolenic acid and stearidonic acid.

Green extraction methods, with no or very little use of chemicals, are possible for extraction and fractionation of high-value compounds from Ulva species.

Further Info on Classes of Bioactives in Green Seaweed


Carotenoids are a group of plant pigments responsible for bright hues seen in many biomass types. They can also have beneficial properties for human health.

Examples of some carotenoids found in green seaweed are listed below:
  • Beta Carotene - This carotenoid, with antioxidant bioactive properties, is found in green seaweed species such as Ulva lactuca (sea lettuce) and Codium fragile (commonly known as green sea fingers or dead man's fingers).
  • Lutein - This is a powerful antioxidantand that can play a role in maintaining eye health. It is found in Ulva lactuca and Caulerpa lentillifera (often known as "sea grapes" or "green caviar").
  • Violaxanthin - Found in Ulva lactuca and Enteromorpha intestinalis.
  • Neoxanthin - This carotenoid has antioxidant properties and is involved in the process of photosynthesis. It is found in Ulva lactuca and Caulerpa lentillifera.
  • Zeaxanthin - Like lutein, zeaxanthin plays a crucial role in eye health. It is also involved in the xanthophyll cycle and offers protection against harmful high-energy blue light. It is found in Ulva lactuca and Enteromorpha intestinalis.
  • Siphonaxanthin - This is a unique xanthophyll found in green seaweeds (e.g. Codium fragile) and some red seaweeds.
  • Siphonein - This carotenoid is specifically found in siphonous green algae, like Bryopsis, and some red seaweeds.

Get more info...Carotenoids


Sterols are a type of lipid, structurally similar to cholesterol, that play essential roles in various biological processes.

Examples of some sterols found in green seaweed are listed below:
  • Fucosterol - While more common in brown seaweeds, fucosterol is also found in some green seaweed species, such as Ulva lactuca.
  • Cholesterol - This sterol has been detected in Caulerpa lentillifera (also known as "sea grapes" or "green caviar") and in Codium fragile (commonly referred to as "green sea fingers" or "dead man's fingers").
  • Campesterol - Has been found in species such as Ulva lactuca and Caulerpa lentillifera.
  • Beta-sitosterol - This sterol has been identified in Ulva pertusa.

Get more info...Sterols

Analysis of Bioactives in Green Seaweed

We have the necessary equipment and expertise to determine the amount and distribution of bioactives in the extracts obtained from a wide variety of biomass samples.

Feel free to click on the links above to see more information on our methods of analysis for the different classes of bioactives or get in touch with us to request further information and a quotation.

Request a QuoteBioactives Analysis

Bioactives According to Other Seaweed Types

Brown Seaweed

Leaves contain valuable bioactive compounds such as tocopherols, carotenoids, flavonoids, sterols, vitamins, tannins, lipids, and minerals which can be used in health, beauty, and food industries.

Get more info...Brown Seaweed

Red Seaweed

Roots are rich in terpenoids, alkaloids and flavonoids. Flavonoids are known to have signalling function in root-rhizosphere and constitute a large part of root exudate.

Get more info...Red Seaweed

How Celignis Can Develop an Efficient Biomass Extraction Process

Identification of High-Value Chemicals

For identification, we firstly get a crude extract from the feedstock, obtained via various approaches, including pressurised liquid extraction. This extract is then profiled using our top-range QTOF-LC/MS system (Agilent iFunnel 6550), which can identify constituents to the femtogram-level, and the spectra and chromatograms reviewed by Sajna, our Bioanalysis Developer. If necessary, we can collect the relevant fractions from the LC system and confirm the identification using a number of different chemical and spectroscopic techniques. We then determine which constituents warrant extraction.

Develop an Optimised Extraction Protocol

Based on the identified chemical(s) of interest, we can then work on optimising a targeted extraction method. This method considers not only the yield of the target compound(s) but also the chemical and energy costs of the process and the implications for the downstream processing and valorisation of the solid residue. We consider a range of different extraction technologies, solvents, and process conditions.

Typically, we first optimise the extraction at lab-scale conditions and then validate the chosen set of conditions at an nehanced scale (i.e. a higher technology readiness level (TRL)).

Separation and Purification of Target Chemical(s)

We can work on a process for the separation and purification of the targeted high value extractive compounds, while considering commercial viability and environmental aspects such as solvent and energy consumption. Based on the particular bioactive compound of interest and the composition of the liquid extract, we can employ a variety of different techniques for separation and purification.

Application Testing of Extract or Separated Components

We can test the extract, or the separated compounds of interest, for a variety of different applications. The tests are custom-designed based on the extracted compound. For low molecular weight biomolecules (non food and feed), bioactivity tests, anti-microbial tests, UV absorbance properties, surface activities, and emulsion forming abilities can be tested. For the food and feed related extract fractions, such as proteins and carbohydrate polymers, nutritional properties, anti-nutritional compounds, emulsification, gelation, foaming (together with bioactive properties, in vitro digestibility etc.) are tested.

Technoeconomic Analysis of the Process

The Celignis team, including Oscar our chief TEA expert, can undertake a detailed technoeconomic analysis of the developed process. We apply accurate and realistic costing models to determine the CAPEX and OPEX of simulated and pilot scale processes which are then used to determine key economic indicators such as IRR, NPV and payback periods.

Our sensitivity analyses can assess the effect of variable costs and revenues, a particularly important aspect to consider given that the sale prices for some bioactive compounds can vary significantly according to their purity and market conditions.

Our preferred approach is to include TEA studies at each stage of the development of the extraction bioprocess, so that the process can be optimised in a commercially-relevant way, followed by a more detailed TEA after the process has been optimised and tested at higher TRL levels.

Click here to read more about the technoeconomic analysis (TEA) services offered by Celignis.


Bioprocess Biomass Extraction Projects - Case Studies

Betulin - UNRAVEL Project

Celignis worked extensively on biomass extraction and the purification of bioactive chemicals in the CBE/BBI project UNRAVEL where the extractives of 25 feedstocks were profiled using our QTOF-LC/MS system. We identified betulin in birch bark as the most attractive compound and subsequently worked on developing an optimised extraction protocol and an isolation/purification process scheme that offered several advantages, in terms of sustainability and safety, over the current art. Click here for a news article on this work.

SteamBioAfrica Project

We are also using employing our compositional analysis and purification expertise in the Horizon Europe project SteamBioAfrica where we evaluate and process the liquid condensate obtained from the steam torrefaction process and consider market applications for its constituents, fractions, and derivatives.

Celignis is testing the separation of acids, phenolics, and aldehydes for their potential to be used as high value bioactive compounds and biopesticides.

Bioactives Profiling of Tropical Trees

Celignis undertook detailed analysis of a wide variety of tropical hardwood trees for a client. This involved characterisation of different anatomical fractions (e.g. stem wood, bark, foliage). There was a particular focus on the composition of the extractives of these feedstocks. We used our QTOF-LC/MS system to profile the diverse and complex array of bioactive compounds present in the samples. We then evaluated the identified compounds and selected key chemicals that could be of high potential value for sale in different markets. We then undertook a review of these compounds, considering their potential value in various markets, the processes that could be required for their separation and purification, and whether other compounds could also be obtained as part of the extraction/separation process. The final output of the project was a list of top feedstocks and chemicals for future bioprocess development.


How our Bioprocess Development Services Work

Our Bioprocess Development Services can work on the evaluation and optimisation of a particular node in the biomass processing technology or can involve the development of a bespoke vertically-integrated technology for your chosen feedstock and/or product. Click here to see how our Bioprocess Development Services work and how we devise and undertake a project.

With regards to the extraction of bioactives from biomass, the Celignis Bioprocess team members with the most experience in undertaking such projects are listed below. Feel free to contact them to discuss potential projects.

Lalitha Gottumukkala

Founder of Celignis Bioprocess, CIO of Celignis


Has a deep understanding of all biological and chemical aspects of bioproceses. Has developed Celignis into a renowned provider of bioprocess development services to a global network of clients.

Dan Hayes

Celignis CEO And Founder

PhD (Analytical Chemistry)

Dreamer and achiever. Took Celignis from a concept in a research project to being the bioeconomy's premier provider of analytical and bioprocessing expertise.

Sajna KV

Bioanalysis Developer


Our Biomass Detective! Designs, tests, optimizes and validates robust analytical methods for our bioprocess development projects. Such bespoke analysis is key to developing an optimised bioprocess.