Overcoming the challenges of applying natural red colorant from seaweed in cosmetic products
Vetik is an Estonian company, founded to valorise red seaweed. Its shareholders have a license to harvest 1000 tons of particular red seaweed per year. The main goal of the Vetik company is to produce red colourant phycoerythrin (PE) and provide it to natural cosmetics producers as a substitute for synthetic colourants.
The main challenges of this project were to increase the stability and potential applications of red pigment PE. The KET4CleanProduction project found a way to produce lipid-soluble PE by microencapsulation method, producing it in the form of a powder, thus increasing the amount of potential final products and making it stable for much longer periods, even in unsuitable conditions. The Project helped reduce drying costs, consumption of energy in drying, as well as generation of waste, while increasing potential market sectors.
KET Technology Centers involved
Leitat - Technological Center | Spain
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden | Sweden
It was important for the company to cooperate with technology centres that have previous experience with different technologies, as well as to establish good communication between the centres and the SME.
That is why they were able to troubleshoot efficiently and continuously choose the best options for experimenting. The Project partners managed to formulate a working microencapsulation method which makes red pigment phycoerythrin (PE) lipid-soluble and easily dispersible in fats, increases the stability of PE against heat, sunlight and oxidation in final products, and produces PE as a powder in a more cost-effective way.
The project partners RISE and LEITAT found working methods for using natural red colorant phycoerythrin in final cosmetic products.
The task chosen for this small project was specific, and it allowed to test different methods, which were carefully chosen based on the experience of experts from technology centres. The good communication between project partners, who had scheduled meetings every month, was important for continuously directing the project based on the intermediate results.