"We want to build a seagrass factory in Sweden," says Fredrik Åkerman, one of the founders of Volta Greentech, a KTH-based startup that has just raised three million in its first investment round for its idea of ​​reducing the climate impact of the grain with the help of a dietary supplement made on red. seaweed.

Fredrik Åkerman got the idea when he was an exchange student at UC Davis University in California and heard about the research being conducted there about the effect of seagrass on the digestion of the barley.

Raping chorus

The significant climate impact of the dairy and meat industry is largely due to the huge amounts of greenhouse gas methane that raping cows release into the atmosphere. But if the cows get a certain type of red algae in the diet, the emissions of methane appear to decrease sharply, according to new research. (LINK MAIN NEWS)

Seagrass grows naturally in, for example, Australia, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean, but has never been produced on a large scale before.

- We want to try to produce larger quantities on land in Sweden, says Fredrik Åkerman.

The KTH-based company has developed a dietary supplement for cows made on red seagrass. Photo: Oskar Idin

Several challenges to solve

In the autumn, the company will start working with farmers and some dairies to produce milk and meat that have caused lower methane emissions and thus are more climate friendly. But they have several challenges to solve along the way, before a dietary supplement can be launched on the market.

On the one hand, the effect of algae on the digestion of the cows in the longer term must be studied, according to Rebecca Danielsson, Swedish University of Agriculture, who researches methane emissions from cows. There is a risk that the cows get used to the algae and that methane production goes up again.

Can be carcinogenic in large quantities

The seagrass's active substance bromoform, which can be carcinogenic in large quantities, also needs to be studied carefully so that it does not affect the meat or milk, says Rebecca Danielsson, who hopes to collaborate with Volta Greentech in a study on the effect of algae on methane emissions in the future.

Milk and meat can be more expensive

In addition, farmers must pay for the feed supplement, and consumers for more expensive meat and milk, says Fredrik Åkerman.

- Farmers are very much under pressure. There are several different financial incentives for farmers to reduce their emissions, and we are developing business models for it. And we also know that consumers are willing to pay more for climate-friendly products.

"Easiest if people stop eating meat"

- Of course, the simplest solution would have been for people to stop eating meat and drinking milk, but such a behavior change will take considerably longer than we have to stop climate change. Therefore, we must find solutions that reduce emissions from the 1.5 billion cows in the world already, he says.