One hundred years of usefulness: how arctic algae became the real wealth of Russia

In 1918, the first algae iodine production in the country opened in Arkhangelsk. For more than 100 years, the company has been able to accumulate knowledge about the beneficial properties of arctic algae and develop its own technology for its extraction and processing. Thanks to the discoveries of scientists, today everyone can feel the benefits of the Russian North using natural cosmetics, functional foods and nutritional supplements under the brand name AB1918.

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1918 Moscow becomes the capital of the Soviet state, Alexander Blok writes the poem “The Twelve”, the world’s first scheduled passenger flight departs from Austria, and the country’s first algae iodine plant is built in Arkhangelsk. The world is beginning to recover from the effects of World War I, which itself became the starting point for the development of the algae industry in northern Russia.

The building of the iodine factory in Arkhangelsk – 1918

By that time, iodine was already known for its antiseptic properties, so it was used to treat wounds. But before the war, the drug was supplied mainly from Germany, so with the start of the campaign, the country began to need a new source of iodine. The solution was proposed by Vyacheslav Tishchenko, a professor at St. Petersburg University, who in 1915 developed a technology for extracting the element also from algae and algae growing in the White Sea. In addition, the concentration of useful substances in them was higher than in the southern species, which were traditionally used as food by the inhabitants of Asian countries.


Source of penicillin and food for besieged Leningrad

The richness of the northern seas embedded in algae has been studied by Soviet scientists, including Ksenia Gemp, who was born and raised in northern Russia. Since 1927, he has been researching the properties and reserves of seaweed in his native White Sea. With the advent of World War II, her knowledge proved necessary for the country – in besieged Leningrad, she introduced the technology of using seaweed for food in just three months and the penicillin that Xenia found in northern algae leaves saved the lives of the wounded. at the Arkhangelsk hospital.

Ksenia Petrovna Gemp

Industrial development in the post-war period

The war showed the potential of arctic algae. It began to grow in the second half of the forties: in the summer of 1948 the industrial production of sodium alginate began and in 1949 mannitol. They are used in medicine, pharmaceuticals, cosmetology and the food industry. Over the next twenty years, algae processing technologies improved, wooden tanks replaced stainless steel tanks, crystallizers, heat exchangers, exhaust bowls, cartridge filters and other equipment.

Gradually, the range of manufactured products also expanded – today they are joined by the brand AB1918. For example, he opened a workshop for the production of agar with a capacity of 3.5 tons per month – a vegetable gelatin substitute and a natural thickener, which is obtained from red algae and is actively used in confectionery. Confiture, soufflé, marshmallow and jam – these healthy desserts continue to be made from arctic algae.

Science that helped the Chernobyl liquidators

The benefits are verified through numerous studies. In 1979, the company was renamed an experimental algae plant in Arkhangelsk. Since then, the scientific base has accumulated very actively and even today many of the plant’s products – from food to cosmetics – are undergoing clinical trials and have evidence-based effectiveness.

The scientific basis was also useful in a completely extreme situation that humanity had never encountered before – the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. Using the knowledge of the beneficial properties of the alginic acid contained in brown arctic algae, it was possible to develop a treatment for the victims of the accident, including the heroes-liquidators, as soon as possible. During the tests, it was proved that alginates have strong anti-radiation properties, provide a reduction of the level of cesium and strontium in the tissues of the body by 75% and intentionally affect the vital systems of the body that are most affected by radioactivity. Thus appeared the radioprotective drugs Algigel, Kanalgat and others.


Ecological nutrition and benefits for the whole organism today

The newest chapter in the history of the Arkhangelsk seaweed plant began in 2019. Then came the AB1918 brand. New consumer trends have become the main driver of growth: people have begun to appreciate environmentally friendly products that are produced safely for the environment. Here the advantages of the products of the Arkhangelsk factory became apparent, the uniqueness of which is that it independently applies the entire production cycle:

  1. Wild algae are collected exclusively by hand, without harming the plants. Everything is done in such a way that natural renewal occurs and the algae can grow again. The process has not changed in more than 100 years of the company’s history and the miners are undergoing special training in advance. This approach is fundamentally different from the practice of other countries, where algae are often grown artificially and harvested mechanically.
  2. Algae are carefully dried in the sun, so as to retain to the maximum the useful properties for future products. Seaweed dries in the countryside on the islands, which allows you to store all the useful minerals for future products.
  3. Arkhangelsk Algae Plant is the only company in Russia that performs deep seaweed processing. The unique processing technologies make it possible to retain the maximum of useful substances during the processing of raw materials, which means a greater benefit to the final product of the brand AB1918. As a result, medicinal and medicinal substances (alginate and mannitol), food and biological additives, ready-to-eat algae and confectionery products based on them, cosmetic products using algae concentrates and extracts are obtained.

Now the beneficial properties of arctic algae are available to everyone and the results of millions of years of development, hundreds of years of business history and the work of thousands of people are packaged in products produced by the Arkhangelsk algae plant under the AB1918 brand.

Despite the great scientific basis and modern technologies of seaweed and seaweed processing, wild algae themselves continued to be collected in a classic, exclusively manual way. It has not changed for more than 100 years of the company’s history and today allows you to carefully transfer useful properties to factory products manufactured under the brand name AB1918.


Arkhangelsk Algae Plant is a large company in northwestern Russia, engaged in the extraction and deep processing of arctic algae. Today, about 1,500 people are involved in the extraction, production, research and sale of the factory’s products. At various times, the company has received approximately 50 awards in professional competitions and nominations, including through the use of conservation technologies for the extraction and processing of algae and fucus. These components are widely used in the production of the company’s products, which include about 300 items from different categories: natural cosmetics, functional foods, biologically active additives and pharmaceutical substances, manufactured under the brand name AB1918.

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