Hulkko, Laura Sini Sofia

PhD Student Laura Hulkko

PROJECT TITLE: Extraction of value-added compounds from green fractionated halophyte biomass

PhD period: 2020.07.15 – 2023.14.07.
Section: Esbjerg Energy Section
Research Programme: Biogas and Biorefinering
Supervisor: Mette Hedegaard Thomsen
Co-Supervisor: Tanmay Chaturvedi
Contact Information



As the awareness of climate change is increasing and soil salinization is causing the degradation of farming land, new technologies are needed to meet the demand of energy, food, and essential products for the world’s increasing population, as well as the demand of feed to the increasing amount of livestock. Halophytes are salt-tolerant plants growing in seashores, marsh land areas and saline deserts all over the world, and domestication of these plants for food and biorefinery purposes can be seen as one method to overcome the future challenges. The young shoots of the plants can be harvested for food, and as the plant matures, the partly lignified material can be used for the production of feed, raw materials for different industries, and biofuels. In multi-product biorefinery, the general idea is to produce small quantities of high-value components, such as pharmaceutical ingredients, and large volume of less valuable products, such as biofuels. This project focuses on green biorefinery, where the fresh biomass is first fractionated to green juice and fibrous residue, and the extraction of value-added compounds is performed separately to both fractions.

 To be able to plan a robust green biorefinery process, it is crucial to know the detailed composition of the biomass fractions. Therefore, some potential halophyte plants native to European seashores are characterized. All basic biochemical groups are determined for each selected plant species. Considering value-added compounds, this project focuses on quantification of pigments, tannins and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which all have shown various health benefits in previous studies. Another goal is to find a cost-efficient and easy applicable method for extraction of proteins and lipids, which can further be used in feed production. Lactic acid fermentation and following acidification would be a simple, safe and environmental friendly way to separate the protein from the green juice; hence optimizing the process sis one of the main focus on the project,

As a part of the European Union Horizon 2020 funded AQUA-COMBINE project, the results from this project may be applied to increase the utilisation of salt-affected soils in an efficient and sustainable way. It could provide solutions to produce feed, and show new opportunities to the production of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical ingredients from bio-based sources.


Publications in journals and conference papers may be found at VBN.