Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Balunkeswar Nayak

Second Committee Member

Peter van Walsum

Third Committee Member

Denise Skonberg

Additional Committee Members

Mary Camire

Douglas Bousfield


Recent interest among consumers to avoid added chemical additives/preservatives has led to the recognition of seaweed as a healthy source of fibers, minerals, and antioxidants. Currently, global seaweed aquaculture is valued over US$ 6 billion and is increasing at a steady rate of 8% annually. Moreover, as per NOAA Fisheries the US imports more than 80% of the seafood consumed. This provides huge economic and workforce development opportunities in the seaweed aquaculture industry of Maine. Consequently, farming sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima), a brown seaweed, is gaining momentum along the northeast US coast. Due to its seasonal availability and limited shelf life, seaweeds are sun-dried or using hot-air to remove moisture, preventing oxidation and microbial growth. The goal of this research is to solve the bottlenecks of drying seaweed in Maine by developing an innovative technology focused on a clean, energy-efficient and closed drying system for producing top-notch and local finished products for American consumers. For this project, the effect of drying and storage conditions (temperature, humidity) on the physical, chemical and thermal properties of the final product are studied. Also, a mathematical drying model is developed to understand the drying kinetics and rate of moisture removal in hot-air driers. Investigations carried out throughout this experiment shows controlled environment drying can improve the predictability of drying dynamics significantly for the preservation of health-beneficial components in sugar kelp. The developed model showed drying can be optimized to create a carbon negative and sustainable seaweed processing industry in Maine.