Algae play a critical role in aquatic ecosystems, converting sunlight into available energy for all marine and freshwater organisms. However, pollution, climate change, and agricultural runoff contribute to the overgrowth of algae, eventually causing the collapse of localised waterbodies. This process is known as eutrophication often has huge ecological, economic, and social repercussions. Today, the spirit industry relies upon intensive agricultural practices to produce their high ethanol yielding crops. Intensive water and synthetic chemical usage and expensive land requirements are examples of agriculture's exhaustive practices that are hindering the viability of this industry, and climate change is only exacerbating these problems. ALGA VODKA asks, is there an alternative and could it be regenerative?

Winner of the @mabiodesign collaboration with @maisonzero and @lvmh. Project to be presented at the @iucn_congress ‘One Nature, One Future,’ 3-11th of September 2021 in Marseille, France.



Six-month project conducted with the intention of coming to market [for more information, please contact].

ALGA VODKA: Global Algal Foraging

Introduction and synopsis

ALGA VODKA is the product of a regenerative system whereby fishing fleets harvest environmentally destructive algal blooms across the globe, restoring local ecosystems and producing limited edition vodka runs to be enjoyed worldwide.

Importantly, the term ‘harmful algal bloom’ is misleading. Harmful can imply harm to an ecosystem, to an economy, or to human health. An environmentally destructive algal bloom is not a toxic algal bloom.

Harvesting environmentally destructive algal blooms prior to bacterial decomposition enables the recovered algae to enter the economy as a viable feedstock.

The restoration of local aquatic ecosystems would be environmentally, socially, and economically beneficial: restoring biodiversity and repurposing fishing fleets, reviving a valuable yet struggling industry.
VODKA

1. Harvest algal bloom

2. Activate, ferment, and distil into ethanol

3. Infuse with locally foraged ingredients



PACKAGING

Convert residual algal biomass into pigments, inks, packaging, and wax for branding and packaging.



SYSTEM

Repurpose residual biomass as fertiliser to be donated to farmers as a replacement for synthetic fertilisers that contribute to the existence of algal blooms in the first place.



ALGA VODKA

Works at the intersection, prioritising innovation and integration in the name of fostering regenerative practice across industries and ecologies.

Algal growth

Algae require water, light, carbon dioxide, movement, and nutrients to thrive. Parachlorella kessleri (green algae) Arthrospira platensis (spirulina) Porphyridium cruentum (red algae)

Saccharification, fermentation, and distillation equipment

This project was conducted during lockdown. From home, I practiced saccharification (enzyme activation), fermentation, distillation, and infusion distillation: experimenting with algae foraging, flavourings, and different 'cuts' of the vodka.

The final products of a closed-loop, regenerative system

Re-integrating outputs into the system:

Handmade algae-based packaging printed with algae-derived inks encompassing a laser-printed upcycled glass bottle, containing vodka made from locally foraged, environmentally damaging algal blooms.

Geolocalised limited edition vodka runs
2020: Brittany, La Cote d'Emeraude

Each batch of foraged algae is distilled with local ingredients, from nettles to aromatic pepper dulse, harvesting species that reflect each respective local culture.

Algae pigment tests

I experimented with extracting the pigment from various foraged strains of algae, from macro (seaweeds and kelps) to micro (spirulina and chlorella). These pigments can be extracted into printable inks, used for the packaging.

Handmade algae paper

Using the residual algal biomass and scraps of discarded paper, I blended, poured, rolled, and dried this mixture, creating algae-based paper. Whether intended for a menu or for product packaging, the thickness and strength can be easily adapted to suit a specific purpose.

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