Cultivated Scallops Made Using Low-Cost Aquaponics Technology

Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (seafood farming) and hydroponics (growing crops in nutrient solutions rather than soil). Essentially, Mermade Seafoods takes nutrient-rich spent growth medium — a byproduct of cultivated meat and seafood production — and places it in a bioreactor with microalgae. The resulting algae biomass can be used to feed more cells, a circular process with the potential to drastically reduce the cost of cell cultivation.

Mermade Seafoods is an Israeli company developing cultivated scallops. The company claims to be the first in the world to use aquaponics technology in cellular agriculture.

Mermade says it is focusing on scallops as their shape and texture is relatively easy to replicate. Additionally, conventional scallops are expensive, meaning the cultivated variety will not be significantly more costly.

“We’re making the same seafood that we all know and love, just without fishing,” CEO Daniel Einhorn said, speaking at OurCrowd’s online event ‘Investing in the Circular Economy: From Trash to Cash.’

Reducing the cost of growth media

Cell growth media is notoriously expensive, accounting for a huge proportion of the cost of cultivated meat. This is currently one of the key barriers to the commercial production of cultivated products. The growth medium most commonly used, fetal bovine serum, also comes with concerns about ethics and quality.

Consequently, various companies are working to develop alternatives. Collaborations are ongoing between Meatable and Royal DSM, and between Aleph Farms and WACKER. Others have successfully managed to do away with cell culture media entirely, such as Japan’s IntegriCulture.

“IntegriCulture is the first to implement cell culture by serum-free basal medium that cell-cultured meat producers around the world are working on. There is a wide range of potential industrial applications in cell cultivation such as cosmetics, leather, pharmaceuticals, and others,” the company said.

Source: Vegconomist

Scientists Make Paper Durable Like Plastic, Without the Pollution

Audrey Carleton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have found a way to waterproof paper with biodegradable materials that also destroy bacteria. They’re calling it Choetsu, and they think it could make a dent in the global plastics crisis.

Detailed in a paper published Friday in the peer-reviewed journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the researchers developed a silica-resin coating that can “compensate for paper’s weaknesses,” turning paper products, like single-use straws or forks, into viable alternatives to plastic by making them waterproof and durable.

“Using coated paper instead of plastic products can help to cut down on harmful waste,” Dr. Zenji Hiroi, professor in solid state chemistry at the University of Tokyo and co-author on the study, told Motherboard in an email.

“We can change the liquid composition to accommodate most materials,” he added. “The Choetsu coating will keep these materials safe for a long time.”

Choetsu is made out of titanium dioxide nanoparticles that, when dispersed in a silica-based film with a thickness of a few micrometers, can be coated on paper and degrade environmental pollutants like certain bacteria when exposed to light.

The exact ingredients that went into it were the result of countless trials by the paper’s first author, Yoko Iwamiya, who worked on it independently before Hiroi came by her side. “She has been working on it for a long time, but society’s recognition was low” due to a “lack of scientific evidence,” he told Motherboard. The team published a paper last year about the silica-resin coating, but without the addition of titanium dioxide and its associated antimicrobial effects.

Besides titanium dioxide, the liquid coating agent is composed of a cocktail of chemicals, like methyltrimethoxysilane, isopropyl alcohol, and tetraisopropyl alcohol, that harden when applied to paper and left to dry. Once dry, a layer of silica forms atop the paper, protecting it. The coating is porous, and has absorptive properties, so it captures pollutants and decomposes them via photocatalysis—a reaction that occurs when an object absorbs light—protecting them from the elements better than a paper product would on its own.

“Paper cutlery may be the most straightforward application,” Hiroi said. “We have already created some prototypes in collaboration with industry. The paper package can be reinforced and used even in the rain. Agricultural mulch for weed control can be made from coated paper and degrade in nature without harming the environment. Any paper product will gain more application options.”

He added that the substance shouldn’t just be used for paper. Should Choetsu prove scalable, it can be applied to ceramic, glass, and even plastic, he said.

“Once the coating liquid’s ingredients are determined, simply brush it on the materials and allow it to dry,” Hiroi told Motherboard. “Because the process is so simple, it can be applied to a wide range of products.”

Source: VICE

Alt-chocolate Without Cocao Launched in U.K.

Allen Weiner wrote . . . . . . . . .

Willy Wonka has nothing on food futurists Ahrum Pak and Dr. Johnny Drain. While there may be no golden tickets inside their alt-chocolate, they promise all of the taste of the real thing without any environmental harm and labor abuse. It’s not a trick—it’s pure science with more than a touch of creative artistry.

London-based WNWN (Waste Not Want Not), the company behind this cacao-free treat, uses a version of fermentation that’s been around for thousands of years instead of precision fermentation, a more complex and costly process that is challenging to scale. “Our approach is rooted in traditional fermentation techniques. We use a suite of microbes and a process that is not too dissimilar to how a baker might work or how a winemaker would work,” CTO Drain told The Spoon In a recent interview.

In WNWN’s approach, a substrate (in this case, British Barley) is combined with an assortment of microbes to produce a brown paste that skips the shelling and roasting process of traditional chocolate making. The paste then goes through the standard chocolate-making process, which includes running the paste through a melanger machine and placing the finished product into individual molds.

While British Barley is being used initially as a substrate, Drain says that other cereal grains (including ones that are non-gluten) and other plant-based ingredients can be used for the alt-cholate fermentation.

“The more you learn about some of the things you love, the more you learn horrifying stories,” Pak, a former executive in the finance industry, says of her company’s dual mission. “Because of the global food chain, the way we grow food now is unstable and unethical in many ways.”

“Chocolate has a truly dark side with more than a million child laborers estimated to work in Ivory Coast and Ghana, where three-quarters of the world’s cacao is grown, and more CO2 emissions pound for pound than cheese, lamb or chicken,” CTO Drain said.

Pak and Drain landed on chocolate partially by accident but also because of the limited number of companies tackling this popular treat. Drain, a master fermenter, who went to school in Bournville, the company town built by Cadbury, recalls the aroma of chocolate when he would head out from his classes and feels it’s part of his legacy. That makes him a lot more like Willy Wonka than the fictitious Ronald Dahl character. Before his work with WNWN, Dr. Drain traveled the world, working with noted restaurants and developing new flavors based on his fermentation skill.

“We are in a golden age of food science,” the company CTO said. “We’re just starting to break down what is in a bar of chocolate to characterize it and create a chemical fingerprint. We explored how we end up getting a chocolate flavor profile that is in a cocoa bean.”

For possible legal and marketing reasons, Drain and Pak said they cannot call their product chocolate and have toyed with a few names, including “chok.” Beyond selling it in retail, initially in the form of a thin or wafer, Pak believes there is a solid B2B play where WNWN’s “chocolate” can be used by companies that use chocolate on cookies, cakes, or anything that currently uses cacao-based chocolate.

WNWN won’t stop with revolutionizing the world of chocolate. The company plans to explore how other foods can be safe from changing climates, biodiversity loss, and poor working conditions. These include coffee, tea, and vanilla, which have supply chains mired in unethical and unsustainable practices.

WNWN’s alt-chocolate will be available starting May 18 exclusively on the company’s website. Each box sells for £10 GB (about $12.50 U.S.), on a par with premium dark chocolates.

Source: The Spoon

Preventing Infection with an Improved Silver Coating for Medical Devices

According to folklore, silver bullets kill werewolves, but in the real world, researchers want to harness this metal to fight another deadly foe: bacteria. Recently, scientists have tried to develop a silver coating for implantable medical devices to protect against infection, but they’ve had limited success. In a study in ACS Central Science, one team describes a new, long-acting silver-ion releasing coating that, in rats, prevents bacteria from adhering to implants and then kills them.

Sometimes medical care requires surgeons to implant a device, such as a tube to drain a wound or the bladder, or to deliver medication directly into the blood. However, bacteria can attach to and collect on the surfaces of these devices, creating a risk for dangerous infections. Researchers have been working to develop bacteria-repelling coatings, including those containing silver, which is known to kill microbes. However, their efforts have faced numerous challenges: Silver can also be toxic to human cells, and it’s difficult to make a coating that continually releases small amounts of the metal over long periods, for example. Dirk Lange and Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu wanted to identify a formula that could overcome these and other difficulties.

To develop a simple-to-use coating, the team screened many sets of ingredients that they could apply to a surface in a single step. The formula that worked the best included silver nitrate, dopamine and two hydrophilic polymers. This silver-based film-forming antibacterial engineered (“SAFE”) coating formed stable, silver-containing assemblies, which gradually released silver ions in lab tests.

When exposed over 28 days to eight of the most common species of bacteria that cause serious infections, this new coating recipe effectively kept the microbes at bay. It did so in a unique way: by both repelling the bacteria from the surface and then killing them with silver ions. To test SAFE’s effectiveness in a living animal, they coated a titanium implant with it, then placed the implant beneath the skin of rats. After a week, the researchers found that implants with the coating had dramatically fewer bacteria than those without it. In addition, there were no signs of toxicity to the rats’ tissues. The coating also appeared tough, showing little wear and tear after being rubbed and sterilized using harsh conditions. This combination of attributes is likely to make the coating useful in many types of medical devices and implants to prevent bacterial infection over the long-term, the researchers say.

Source: American Chemical Society

New Cocoa Processing Method Produces Fruitier, More ‘Flowery’ Dark Chocolate

Producing chocolate, one of the world’s most beloved sweets, is a multistep process beginning with freshly harvested cocoa beans. People have been experimenting with chocolate-making for millennia, and even today, new methods are still being introduced.

Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have found that an alternative processing step called “moist incubation” results in a fruitier, more flowery-tasting dark chocolate than the conventional fermentation process.

After cocoa beans are harvested, they are traditionally covered in banana leaves and left for a few days to ferment. During this time, microbes in the environment degrade the pulp surrounding the beans, heating and acidifying them. This causes biochemical changes in the beans that reduce bitterness and astringency, while developing the pleasing flavors and aromas associated with chocolate.

Recently, scientists developed an alternative, non-microbial approach called moist incubation, in which dried, unfermented cocoa nibs are rehydrated in an acidic solution, heated for 72 hours and then re-dried. The method, which is faster and more easily controlled than fermentation, produced similar aromas in beans as fermentation, with some differences.

Irene Chetschik, Ansgar Schlüter and colleagues wanted to find out how the taste and aroma of the final product — chocolate — compared when using moist incubation versus traditional fermentation.

The researchers made chocolate bars using moist incubated or fermented dried cocoa beans, as well as unfermented beans as a control. Sensory panelists said the moist incubated sample had higher intensities of fruity, flowery, malty and caramel-like aromas, whereas the fermented one had higher roasty aroma notes, and the bar made from unfermented beans had a primarily green aroma. The panelists rated the moist incubated sample as the sweetest-tasting, while the unfermented chocolate was the most bitter and astringent.

Identification of aroma compounds by gas chromatography (GC)-olfactometry and their subsequent quantitation by GC-mass spectrometry revealed higher levels of malty compounds called Strecker aldehydes and lower amounts of roasty compounds called pyrazines in the moist incubated chocolate compared with the fermented one.

The researchers concluded that moist incubation produces a chocolate with a pleasant aroma and taste and could, therefore, serve as an alternative postharvest treatment.

Source: American Chemical Society