The main sources of alginates and the current source of all commercial alginate material are species of the brown algae (Phaeophyceae). These are found in coastal waters in cold and temperate areas of the world. Although some of these resources are potentially very large indeed, their commercial value cannot always be realized because of the remoteness of the location and the difficulties attending harvesting and shipment. It is however possible that some geographical areas with such resources may be developed in the future, as the alginate industry is expanding by about 10% per annum. Another problem is encountered with some algal species from which the alginate is less readily extracted and processed. Estimation of current annual production of alginate world-wide is extremely difficult, but is probably upwards of 25,000 tonnes. Successful attempts to cultivate seaweeds for alginate production have been made in the Republic of China, but the contribution of this source to total world production cannot be accurately determined and is probably not currently significant. It is probably unlikely that extensive production of alginate from such cultivated material will be seen in the foreseeable future.
KeywordsUronic Acid Algal Material Guluronic Acid Alginate Fibre Mannuronic Acid
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