ABO Bids Farewell to Executive Director Dr. Matt Carr

February, 20 / 2019

He leaves ABO with a strong legacy of industry diversification and policy wins

Dr. Matt Carr, Executive Director of the Algae Biomass Organization since 2014, has announced that he will be leaving the organization at the end of March to return to academia.

The Board of Directors will soon begin the process of recruiting a new Executive Director. In the meantime, ABO will continue its work advocating for research and development funding, opening markets for a wide range of algae products, and elevating the work of all ABO members.

During his tenure Matt guided ABO, and the algae industry at large, through remarkable changes and on to unprecedented success. In a note to ABO members, Mark Allen, Vice President of Integrated Carbon Solutions at Accelergy Corporation and Chair of ABO’s Board of Directors, commented:

“Over the past five years Matt lead ABO through a significant diversification from its origins in algae for biofuels to a much broader universe of opportunity for algae in food and feed, nutrition and health, chemicals and materials, biofertilizers, energy, and carbon capture and utilization.

“On the policy front he has been a tireless advocate on Capitol Hill and with Federal agencies making the case for annual appropriations on the order of $40 million that flowed into important research and projects across the algae value chain to the benefit of ABO members and the industry. He spearheaded important legislative wins in carbon capture and utilization and landmark accomplishments in the 2018 Agriculture Bill that will benefit ABO members and the algae industry for decades to come.

“These accomplishments and much more are reflected in the quality and diversity of the annual ABO Summit, the world’s leading algae gathering and celebration of algae scientists, entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, government officials, and Fortune 500 companies that are adopting algae into their products and operations. Matt has been the greatest algae enthusiast of all.”

An Accomplished Tenure, and a Foundation for the Future

Matt’s transformation of the ABO into an organization representing the full universe of opportunities made possible by advanced algae cultivation has led to remarkable membership growth and policy success.

ABO’s membership now includes five of the largest domestic algae producers. New corporate members that have joined over the past year represent some of the most significant points in the algae value chain. These include providers of food and nutrition products, advanced engineering firms, providers of algae-based water treatment systems, laboratory systems and automation, biofuels and more.

The growth and diversity of the ABO community was critical in propelling a number of remarkable policy wins that will accelerate the development of algae technology and commercialization, including:

  • An active and strong bipartisan Congressional Algae Caucus – this group of lawmakers has become an active advocate for annual appropriations that support important research and projects across the algae value chain to the benefit of ABO members and the industry. These funds are expected to exceed $40 million in 2019.
  • An engaged Interagency Algae Working Group – a group coordinating federal algae R&D efforts that includes the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, Heath and Human Services, and the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • A transformation of carbon capture policy – An update to the 45Q tax credit will allow algae and other biological forms of carbon capture utilization to take advantage of this valuable incentive for the first time
  • A Farm Bill that supports algae farming provisions in the latest Farm Bill that will assist the algae industry include a new Algae Agriculture Research Program at USDA, and language directing the Department to develop crop insurance tools for algae production – with the potential to deliver millions of dollars of value annually to the algae industry.
  • The launch of the Future of Algae for Food and Feed Initiative – With the launch of the Future of Algae for Food and Feed (FAFF) initiative, a huge step was taken toward addressing barriers to widespread adoption of algae food and feed ingredients. The FAFF also laid the groundwork for new partners – and new funding streams – for this important work.
  • A successful Algae Biomass Summit, with a strong program shaping up for 2019 in Orlando – The Algae Biomass Summit has become the most important algae industry event. The 2018 Summit featured its strongest business program to date, including a new Products & Markets Track, the Algae Product Showcase, an algae-focused menu, and attracted nearly 200 first-time attendees. The 2019 Summit is shaping up to be even better.

“We view ABO’s mission to advance algae technologies and products as a marathon that is run in a series of sprints. Matt has given us an incredible five years, and as he passes the baton to a new era of leadership we find ourselves more than ready for the next stage of the race,” said Allen.

The Board of Directors expresses its gratitude to Matt for his years of service. We will miss Matt, but know he will continue to make a great impact for society and the planet through educating the next generation of leaders.

Become an ABO Intern!

January, 30 / 2019

Students – Are you interested in doing more for your industry while completing your degree? Help define the algae sector of today and shape the industry of tomorrow as an Algae Biomass Organization volunteer virtual intern.

Internships of 8-12 weeks are available and are completely online. Interns serve a vital role by assisting ABO with industry and policy research, social media and communications. Interns leave their experience with a new understanding of the interconnections between research, industry, government and policy, along with exciting new insights and connections. 

Individuals interested in the ABO volunteer virtual internship program should send a brief cover letter and CV or resume to Barb Scheevel, bscheevel@algaebiomass.org.

$500 Student Travel Grants to the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit

January, 25 / 2019

Get your abstracts for the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit ready! The Algae Foundation has announced that it is offering $500 travel grants to attend the 13th Annual Algae Biomass Summit in Orlando, Florida, from September 16-19, 2019.

More information on the Mary Rosenthal Student Travel Grant can be found here.

The priority deadline for abstract submission is January 31, 2019, although abstracts will be considered past that point.

When you submit your 2019 Algae Biomass Summit Abstract, please select “Yes” at the end of the application to receive more information about the Student Travel Grant!

To qualify students must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an ABO Member ($75 for Students);
  • Be a high school, undergraduate, graduate student or pre-doctoral student or
  • Be a PhD with a post-doctoral appointment and is currently involved in a full-time academic research program for no longer than 2 years.
  • Submit an abstract to present a poster or oral presentation at ABS 2018 and be the presenting author of the abstract. 
  • Provide a suggested budget to attend the Summit
  • Provide a current letter of recommendation for ABS 2019 from an academic advisor.

Please contact Philip Pienkos at philip.pienkos@nrel.gov for more information.

Bring an Algae Curriculum to Your School!

January, 24 / 2019

The Algae Academy is currently accepting applications for their Spring rollout of their K-12 Algae Curriculum! Please share the application link with any educators you know, applications are due February 1st. Awarded teachers will receive 5-days of algae-focused lesson plans, live algae, laboratory supplies and educator support throughout the program…free of charge!

Apply here

Since 2015, the Algae Academy curriculum has been executed in over 70 schools nationwide serving students in 2nd-12th grade. We are kicking off the new year by selecting 50 new teachers to participate in our Algae Academy 2019 Spring Session in March. To apply for an Algae Academy kit, please complete the linked application and submit to the selection committee by February 1, 2019. Awarded teachers will be notified by February 8th and kits will be delivered one week prior to the module start. Please contact Marissa Nalley at mnalley@thealgaefoundation.org with any questions.

The Algae Academy is an initiative of The Algae Foundation, a national 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to promote the power of algae to transform human society and the environment upon which it depends. The Foundation is committed to partnering with teachers and developing programming that meet the new Next Generation Science Standards in an exciting and innovative way to inspire students and their families, as well as teachers and their teams. Please visit our website, thealgaefoundation.org.

How One Algae Company Scaled Up With Commercial Automation

January, 22 / 2019

By Amir Kaufman, COO and co-founder, Wonderlogix

Biotech is full of innovative startups, but most stumble with industrialization as they begin to scale. Here’s how one company succeeded in scaling up with commercial automation.

As they move from the “hands-on” approach of their founders to full automation, biotech companies often struggle.  They fear a loss of control through use of third-party automation engineers, a threat to IP as these contracted engineers move within the industry, and the difficult cultural change of transitioning from an idea-driven enterprise to one of process-driven automation and industrialization.  Many companies falter during this period. But the right technology partner can offer solutions to address all these challenges.

AlgaeMor’s Move to Commercial Scale Automation

With the proven nutritional value of Spirulina, it would have seemed that this particular strain of algae would have had an immediate market.  But inherent challenges, including taste and smell characteristics, limited its impact and relegated it to pill form as a work-around. Enter AlgaeMor, whose innovative quick freeze process allows it to be sold as fresh while retaining its nutritional value by avoiding heating and drying.  

But as groundbreaking as this process was, automation remained elusive due to the product’s unique characteristics and sensitive nature. The requirement of low sheer equipment and blast freezers meant that process control would have to be precise. AlgaeMor’s co-founder, Baruch Dach, worked in vain for over three months with automation engineers to develop and implement a working process control strategy. With frustration and cost rising, he turned to the WonderLogix platform for a solution.

Algaetech Innovation Meets Automation Innovation

No stranger to innovation, AlgaeMor recognized WonderLogix’s unique approach to automation control. Using Object-Oriented Design principles, the WonderLogix platform allows usersin this case, the life scientists who work directly with the productto define the components of the system. These components allow the use of natural language and the grouping of components into classes where mass changes can be achieved with a single change to inputs. With specified inputs and outputs, users can then specify the logical relationships between components in plain English.  

AlgaeMor was able to use WonderLogix to model their entire production process. By developing a simulated model to test various scenarios, the scientists who understand their process best were able to retain complete control. The WonderLogix platform allowed the AlgaeMor life scientists to design, develop, and deploy an optimized process control strategy, as well as make changes as needed to their process criteria: environmental conditions, water quality, contaminating agents and strain specific constraints.

By using the WonderLogix platform, AlgaeMor was able to achieve in eight hours what had eluded them in the previous three months. In addition to the natural language capability, the platform also generates documentation automatically. It allows for change control and acts as the engineering-grade production manual, which also serves as the record for Intellectual Property and as a POC roadmap for potential investors. And once the model is finalized, documented and accepted, PLC code is generated automatically.

AlgaeMor Moves Forward with Process Design Control

By utilizing the WonderLogix platform, AlgaeMor was able to address the challenges facing many biotech companies today. Process design control was shifted from third-party automation engineers directly to the life scientists at AlgaeMor. And Intellectual Property was better shielded by keeping the design in-house.

Finally, what was once an operation run on ideas and a notebook, was moved to a documented, agile process that allowed AlgaeMor to scale and grow with far less cost and shorter time to market for their products.

About WonderLogix

WonderLogix is disrupting the world of industrial automation. Using our patented technology, anyone can design and program control systems, in plain English—no coding or engineering knowledge required. Our clients get to market 3x faster than their competition.

Please contact us for more info or to book a demo.

Note: This is a guest post for the ABO blog. The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) are theirs alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by the Algae Biomass Organization

Announcing the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit and Call for Abstracts

December, 13 / 2018

The 2019 Algae Biomass Summit will be held September 16-19, 2019, at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida. This marks the 13th annual staging of the world’s largest algae conference and trade show, and its first return to Florida since 2013.

Commercial algae producers, algae product developers, and the scientific community are invited to share their milestones in:

  • Microalgae and macroalgae research and technology
  • New algae products and markets
  • Key developments in financing and policy

Submissions are particularly encouraged from algae applications in these key theme areas:

  • Food, Feed, Health & Nutrition
  • Water, Climate & Soils
  • Biofuels & Biomaterials

Abstracts submitted by January 31, 2019 will receive preferred evaluation by the event’s planning committee.

Expose your research, technology and commercial developments to the world’s largest gathering of algae thought leaders, investors, and policy makers!

View the Call for Abstracts Here

Algae Agriculture Triumphs in Farm Bill Compromise

December, 12 / 2018

In a historic day for the algae industry, the U.S. Senate Tuesday approved a Farm Bill compromise that dramatically expands federal support for algae agriculture. The bill sets U.S. farm policy through 2023. It is expected to pass the House of Representatives as soon as today and receive President Trump’s signature before Christmas.

Among the bill’s more than 800 pages is a suite of provisions placing algae among the nation’s top priorities for new crop deployment and providing support for the development of algae and related technologies in nutrient management, soil health, carbon recycling and other farm and rural applications.

The bill’s key algae provisions include:

  • Crop Insurance– Algae are explicitly added under the definition of “agricultural commodity” for the purposes of federal crop insurance programs, paving the way for federal crop insurance for algae production
  • Algae Agriculture Research Program– Establishes a new USDA Algae Agriculture Research Program to address challenges in farm-scale algae production and support development of algae-based agriculture solutions
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program– Provides for the first time full eligibility to algae under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. BCAP provides financial support to farmers for establishment, production and delivery of new biomass crops
  • Biobased Markets Program (BioPreferred)– Directs USDA to establish methodology providing full credit for biobased content for products from biologically recycled carbon. Current USDA methodology excludes biobased products from recycled carbon.
  • Biorefinery Assistance (9003 Loan Guarantee) Program – Expands the section 9003 loan guarantee program to allow algae-based and other biorefinery projects for the manufacture of renewable chemicals and biobased products to qualify regardless of whether biofuels will be produced
  • Carbon Capture and Use – Adds several provisions expanding CCU research, education and outreach at the Department of Agriculture

The bill also reauthorizes BCAP, BioPreferred, and the section 9003 loan guarantee program through 2023, though it strips BCAP of mandatory funding and marginally reduces 9003 mandatory funding levels.

It total, these provisions represent a dramatic advance in federal algae policy with the potential to greatly expand U.S. algae production and rapidly accelerate development and deployment of innovative algae agriculture technologies.

This remarkable outcome is the product of a more than year-long campaign by the ABO Executive Policy Council and the support of more than a dozen congressional offices, including key House and Senate farm bill leaders.

ABO particularly wishes to thank the following:

  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow championed several key provisions in the Senate bill and in conference negotiations with the House
  • House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson provided key support for several algae provisions as well
  • Congressional Algae Caucusco-chairs Scott PetersDarin LaHood, Derek Kilmer and Andy Biggs introduced the Algae Agriculture Act, the landmark legislation that served as the original source of nearly all of the algae provisions included in the final Farm Bill. Reps Peters and LaHood also wrote to farm bill leaders calling for inclusion of Algae Agriculture Act provisions.
  • Will Hurd, Matt Cartwright, and Michelle Lujan Grisham also co-sponsored the Algae Agriculture Act, and Rep. Hurd provided key advocacy for inclusion of the algae crop insurance provision in the final farm bill package
  • Neal Dunn introduced language in the House Committee hearing that resulted in inclusion of the Algae Agriculture Research Program. Senators John Cornyn and Tom Udall filed an amendment during Senate floor consideration of the farm bill outlining algae ag research program priorities that demonstrated key bipartisan, bicameral support for the proposal.
  • Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Michael Bennet led the charge on securing multiple provisions in support of Carbon Capture and Use 
  • Lloyd Ritter and the Agriculture Energy Coalition did remarkable work to rally support and secure reauthorization and funding of Energy Title programs – and the Energy Title policy fixes outlined above – at a time when many speculated that the Energy Title had run its course. Thank you, Lloyd!

Many other congressional offices, ABO members, and other allies also played important roles in this historic effort. To one and all we offer our thanks. We look forward, as well, to working with USDA, Congress and the White House in implementing these transformative provisions.

 

New EERE Funding Topics for Small Business Include Algae

November, 26 / 2018

The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy recently announced a dozen new topics for funding as part of the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research and development proposals. Algae R&D opportunities are featured in a number of the topics. 

The funding is part of DOE’s efforts to leverage the power of small business to spur innovation and economic growth. Over the past decade a number of algae companies have taken advantage of similar funding to commercialize new innovations in algae harvesting, product development and more. The results have driven down costs across the algae industry while providing new opportunities for employment, facility expansion and rural economic growth. 

ABO members interested in the new opportunities can learn more in the DOE announcement and the expanded listing of topics

Additional information on the DOE SBIR and STTR programs is also  available on the SBIR/STTR website.

Voices from the Algae Biomass Summit: Get the most out of your algal strain with Algenuity

November, 15 / 2018
This post is part of a series authored by sponsors and exhibitors from the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit, which recently concluded just outside Houston, Texas. 

by Algenuity

We use our high throughput Algem HT24 system to perform multiparametric bioprocess optimizationDid you visit us at this year’s Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) Summit in Texas? Attendees were able to see our Algem® photobioreactor in action, and speak to us about our multiparametric optimization.

At Algenuity, we take a radically different statistical modeling approach to help you get the most from your algal strains. We can improve your process and outcome by discovering which parameters are most important and co-optimizing them, while also uncovering hidden parameter interactions. We statistically model your process to accurately predict better conditions, which rapidly increases your yields, defines tolerances, improves your process economics and decreases your time to market.

We have demonstrated successful application of this advanced scientific approach to increase the biomass yield of Arthrospira platensis (spirulina) by 235 %, and astaxanthin production in Haematococcus pluvialis to 6.9 % dry weight. “We are excited by the results we have achieved for these commercially important microalgae,” commented Andrew Spicer, Algenuity CEO. “We are confident in applying our expertize and technology to improve microalgal industry outputs, driving the industry to success, renewed investment and growth”.

Missed us at this year’s ABO Summit? Don’t worry – contact us to see how we can optimize your strain, improve your outputs, and support you in your ultimate success story.

Visit https://www.algenuity.com/ to find out more.

Carbon Utilization Research Can Lead to Big Emissions Reductions

October, 30 / 2018

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine makes the case for robust, coordinated research and development programs that can accelerate the development of technologies that can turn greenhouse into useful products such as fuels, construction materials, and chemicals. Algae cultivation is prominently featured in the report, as it has long been considered one of the more exciting biological routes to achieving economically viable carbon capture and sequestration (CCU).

The report calls for a coordinated R&D effort funded by the U.S. government and the private sector, targeting fundamental research, entrepreneurial research hubs, pilot facilities and large-scale commercialization projects.

Typically scale-up research is done in industrial research settings; however, industry may be unlikely to invest in development of these nascent technologies beyond the laboratory scale due to the lack of market, regulatory, and policy drivers. Therefore, government investment will be critical to enable these technologies to reach pilot and demonstration scale.”

Over the next several decades, CCU technologies could capture more than 10 percent of global emissions, making the approach one of the most potent tools against climate change—if we can make it happen.

A number of research areas for advancing the potential of algae cultivation are identified in the report, including maximizing photosynthesis and carbon dioxide conversion limits. The authors describe the wide range of valuable products that can be made from algae, including the co-products that can be made from the wastes generated during the production of algal biofuels:

Dietary protein

“Protein productivity from algae has been estimated at up to 50 times that of soybeans per acre of land.”

Polyunsaturated fatty acids

Many green algae naturally produce polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are valuable for humans and animals as food additives. While they are typically harvested from fish, PUFAs from algae represent a viable and more sustainable set of target molecules.”

Pigments.

“Algae are well known for their ability to produce a variety of pigments and could provide a more sustainable alternative to the utilization of fossil fuels.”

The report also cites the potential for cyanobacteria, often called blue-green algae, to convert greenhouse gases into a long list of valuable fuels and industrial chemicals, including:

  • Ethanol
  • Butanol (n-butanol and isobutanol)
  • Fatty acids
  • Heptadecane
  • Limonene
  • Bisabolene
  • 2,3- butanediol
  • 1,3-propanediol
  • Ethylene
  • Glycogen
  • Lactate
  • 3-hydroxypropanoic acid
  • 3- hydroxybutanoic acid
  • 4-hydroxybutanoic acid
  • Isoprene
  • Farnesene

The potential for algae to drive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in clearly enormous, as is the potential to develop a new source of more sustainable products, jobs, and agricultural practices.

Read more about the report, and how to obtain a copy in the National Academies’ press release.