Ayla Sant’Ana da Silva

Life Sciences

Ayla Sant’Ana da Silva, a biologist passionate about pilates, holds a master’s and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, her alma mater. She conducted some of her graduate studies at the National Institute for Industrial and Scientific Advancement (AIST) in Japan. Ayla’s research focuses on a significant seed from the Brazilian flora: açaí. Her work could potentially lead to significant advancements in harnessing açaí as an energy source. Her contributions to the field have been recognized with several academic awards, including the 2014 CAPES Thesis Award for the best doctoral thesis in biotechnology defended in 2013. When not immersed in her research, Ayla enjoys engaging in intense board game battles with her husband. Their collection boasts over 100 games, providing endless entertainment at home.


Harnessing the Power of Açaí: Biotechnological routes for sustainable energy and value-added products
Science / Life Sciences

The production of açaí pulp in Brazil results in over 1 million tons of seeds annually, which make up 85-95% of the fruit’s mass. These seeds primarily comprise mannan (55-65%) and are rich in antioxidants, making them a valuable yet underutilized resource. The goal is to assess the potential of converting açaí seed into energy and products for use in the food and cosmetics industries. The initial phase involves the structural characterization of the seed’s polysaccharides and a detailed identification of antioxidant compounds. This stage will lay the theoretical groundwork for the development of enzymatic or chemoenzymatic conversion methods to produce antioxidant extracts, mannose, and mannan-oligosaccharides. We will also explore the feasibility of producing biogas through the anaerobic digestion of seed components. This could potentially facilitate decentralized energy production in remote areas. This comprehensive approach aims to unlock the full potential of açaí seeds, transforming them from waste material into a source of valuable products and sustainable energy.

Amount invested

1st phase: R$ 117,587.33
2nd phase: R$ 997,600.00 (R$ 700,000.00 + R$ 297,600.00 optional bonus for the integration and training of people from underrepresented groups in science)
R$ 10,000.00 (maternity grant)

Open Calls

Science Call 1
  • Topics
  • Açaí
  • Environmental problem
  • Mannan
  • Seed
  • Value-add