New USDA Research Agency Could Turbocharge High Tech Agriculture

November, 24 / 2019

Legislation proposed this month by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (D-IA) would create a new agency inside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would prioritize the development of new innovations and technologies for American farms, ranches and rural communities.

The proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency–Terra (ARPA–Terra) carries a similar name as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) in the Department of Energy that has funded cutting-edge energy technology development since 2009. ARPA-E has built an impressive track record, having funded billions of dollars of research, inspired the formation of dozens of high-tech companies, and established the foundations for hundreds of new patents.

Many of the latest advances in biofuel production, battery technology, energy efficiency, and bioenergy crop development have only been possible with crucial support from ARPA-E. 

A number of algae research consortia and commercialization projects have made considerable breakthroughs thanks to ARPA-E support. These advances in technology have not only benefited the energy sector, but are now finding new applications in food production, water treatment, bioplastics and other sectors. 

If a similar model can be implemented at the USDA it could transform how technology advances improve agricultural productivity, sustainability, and economic opportunity in communities across the country.

Algae was recently designated as a crop for the first time in the 2018 Farm Bill, and ABO will be keeping a close eye on this new legislation.

A focus on high-risk, high-reward technology innovation by the federal government has transformed sectors like energy and communications. Agriculture can be next. 

Read more here.

ABO Member Discount to AlgaEurope 2019

November, 22 / 2019

The Algae Biomass Organization has enjoyed a long and productive partnership with the European Algae Biomass Organization. One of the perks for ABO members can be taken advantage of next month at AlgaEurope 2019, the annual meeting of European algae producers, researchers and investors.

ABO members may qualify for a €200 discount off the regular registration rate! To take advantage of this benefit ABO members can contact Barb Scheevel for details at: bscheevel@algaebiomass.org.

AlgaEurope is a growing event with participation from all over the globe. For those that can’t attend, there is also an option to live stream the proceedings.

Learn more here.

Learn algae production skills these online courses from the Algae Technology Educational Consortium

November, 6 / 2019

Algae production technologies are gearing up to provide biomass that can be used in markets that are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars. To help meet that opportunity ABO ‘s sister organization, The Algae Foundation, is coordinating a number of projects that are educating and training the industry’s future workforce.  They have just released a new set of online course material for those interested in developing a career in algae agriculture. 

The new material is part of the Algae Technology Educational Consortium’s Algal Cultivation Extension Short-course (ACES). Part 1 covered macroalgae and Part 2 covers microalgae. These courses are ideal for those who have some knowledge of aquaculture but need to learn the basics of growing large quantities of microalgae. 

Offerings include:

  • cultivation and harvesting technologies,
  • microscopy, algae species collections,
  • nutrient media recipes,
  • algae to fuel,
  • carbon sequestration,
  • food products, and
  • interviews with industry experts.

The courses are an impressive collection of expertise and resources for any laboratory or company that needs personnel trained in  algae cultivation. Discover how microalgae cultivation skills can enhance your role in the aquaculture industry. 

Check out this ATEC webpage for registration information. 

Algae in the News | October 2019

November, 4 / 2019

October was a busy month for the business of algae in the news. Some of our favorites include innovative designs that allow building tiles to scrub wastewater, the expansion of algae-based feeds in aquaculture, and a futuristic look at how algae could act as oxygen factories inside your blood vessels. Read on to see our selection of news for the month of October, 2019:

Inhabitat-Oct 26, 2019
 
The Guardian-Oct 25, 2019
 
Undercurrent News-Oct 25, 2019
 
Science News-Oct 23, 2019
 
BioSpace-Oct 23, 2019
 
EcoWatch-Oct 15, 2019
 
Fast Company-Oct 14, 2019
 
The Pig Site-Oct 9, 2019
 
Undercurrent News-Oct 4, 2019
 
Massive Science-Oct 4, 2019
 
Core77-Oct 3, 2019
 
Feed Navigator-Oct 3, 2019
 
Quartz-Oct 1, 2019
 
The Fish Site-Oct 1, 2019
 
Massive Science-Sept 29, 2019
 
Don’t forget: ABO’s membership discounts for 2020 expire on November 15! Bring a new member and you both get up to 20% the normal rates. Learn more here.

The Opportunity for Algae in Carbon Utilization

October, 30 / 2019

A $320 billion market that could also capture 3 billion tons of carbon emissions

A recent report by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) takes a close look at using carbon emissions as a feedstock to more efficiently decarbonize economies around the world. The authors identify an enormous opportunity for algae.

C2ES published “Carbon Utilization–A Vital and Effective Pathway for Decarbonization” to examine how carbon utilization processes not associated with enhanced oil production (EOR) might lead to emissions reductions. In other words, how CO2 can be captured and used to manufacture things like construction materials, fuels, plastics, chemicals and more. 

ABO worked closely with C2ES on the report, and the chapter on algae identifies some near-term opportunities as well as larger applications that will unfold over time. 

A Big Market, and Big Carbon Reductions

C2ES estimates that by 2025 the market for algae-based products will be approximately $14 billions, but then expand dramatically to $320 billion by 2030. 

 

The market size is impressive, but so is the amount of CO2 that could be used. The report indicates that by 2030 the CO2 use potential of algae-based products could approach 3 billion tons. 

The report also highlights the fact that algae production does not require purified streams of CO2 in order to be productive. In many cases, flue gas from a power plant can be fed directly to microalgae, reducing the need for expensive purification equipment. In fact, some combustion waste products like nitrogen oxides or sulphur oxides can be used as nutrients by algae. 

Furthermore, the CO2 used to grow algae doesn’t have to come from fossil sources. Direct air capture or other industrial processes are also being examined as feedstock sources. This opens the door for algae to play a role in reversing runaway climate change. 

Combining a Strong Market Pull With a Smart Policy Push

The authors note one of the most remarkable advantages of algae in carbon utilization is the wide range of products that can be made. They list just a sliver of what’s possible: livestock and aquaculture feed, omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene, food products, bioplastics, biopesticides, biostimulants, biofertilizers, bio-methane for electricity production, bio-jet fuel, bio-ethanol, and bio-diesel. 

Since some of these products already have demonstrated market commercial value, market economics could lead to industry scale-up. 

There is broad potential to offset the capital costs associated with algae production facilities near industrial CO2 sources, like power plants. This is a vital distinction, since real emissions reductions will require a significant market pull that arises from a demand for low-carbon products, in addition to new policy support.

To give carbon utilization the policy push it needs to meet this remarkable potential, C2ES proposes options along four categories:         

  • Financial enablers such as tax credits and subsidized project finance.
  • Research that coordinates federal spending on all phases of research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D).            
  • Infrastructure development of CO2 transportation pipelines, facilities, etc.    
  • Market enablers such as industry standards and procurement policies that provide preferential demand for products with recycled carbon.

Each of these is detailed in the report available here. The team at C2ES deserves congratulations for bringing more attention to the remarkable potentials of carbon utilization. 

Ready to get involved on behalf of algae? The race to turn carbon into a valuable feedstock is on, and the members of the Algae Biomass Organization are at the forefront. Join us by becoming a member, or sign up for our newsletter to keep up on the latest.

 

ABO Welcomes Membranology As New Silver-Level Member

October, 30 / 2019

Membranology brings advanced filtration technology and expertise to the global algae industry

The Algae Biomass Organization welcomes Membranology, a provider of advanced filtration technologies and expertise, as the group’s newest Silver-level corporate member.

Advanced filtration is a key process for many algae producers and product developers. Algae cells produced in bioreactors, open ponds, fermentation tanks or even in wastewater treatment facilities must often be physically separated from water into a concentrated form. The concentrated algae is then used for R&D applications, product development or other biomass processes. 

Membranology’s expertise extends far beyond just cell harvesting. Their extensive knowledge of filtration and process engineering has facilitated their development of novel processes for separation and concentration of valuable products obtained from algae. Optimized downstream processing of the algal products is key to economic recovery and clean-up of the water for reuse.

Membranology’s approach to separation process has been lauded by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), one of the world’s leading professional engineering groups, and has benefited both novices and experts when it comes to using membrane filtration technologies to yield high-value, pure algae from a variety of production methods.

“We are looking forward to playing a role in ABO’s efforts to advance the algae industry,” said Richard Phillips, Managing Director at Membranology. “We were impressed by the depth and size of the industry on display the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit, and particularly that ABO’s mission is so closely aligned with our own dedication to increasing innovation and reducing costs in the algae industry.”

Membranology’s exhibit booth at the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit

Membranology offers a variety of services to algae producers:

  • Fluid and Membrane Characterization, Membrane Selection
  • Process Design and Innovation
  • Membrane Autopsy
  • On-Site Pilot trials
  • Education and Training

Since Membranology is independent of any supplier, their engineers can always choose the optimum membrane for a given application, and offer state-of-the-art equipment for process stream and membrane characterization.

For a limited time Membranology is offering ABO members free consultations. Reach out them at info@membranology.com for details.

A big welcome to Membranology!

For more information visit https://membranology.com/

Interested in ABO membership? Sign up before November 15, 2019 to take advantage of our fall discount offers!

In Celebration of Dr. Robert Gardner, 1979-2019

October, 29 / 2019

Dr. Robert Gardner

We are all saddened by the passing last Thursday of Dr. Robert Gardner, a dedicated member of the algae community that made enduring contributions to science, education, and to the growth of the Algae Biomass Organization.

Rob was well-respected for his research on algal biofuels at Montana State University as a Ph.D. student and later as an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota. He also conceived of and organized the first Young Innovators Lounge (YIL), an annual series of events at the Algae Biomass Summit designed to help students advance their careers by making personal connections with industry leaders.  

Rob was one of the earliest student members of the Algae Biomass Organization, and made contributions at every Summit from 2008-2019, chairing the YIL and poster sessions in 2013-2015, and then serving as the event’s Biology track chair from 2016-2018. He also served on the Technical Standards committee for ABO’s most important industry standards document: Industrial Algae Measurements, v. 8.0

Dr. Rob Gardner (center) at the 2016 Algae Biomass Summit

Rob’s contributions to science and education, and especially his collegial and energetic spirit, will continue to be an inspiration to the entire ABO community. He will be greatly missed.

Read Rob’s obituary here. 

Read a statement from Mark Allen, ABO’s President and Board Chair, here.

A college scholarship fund in his honor has been set up to support his daughter’s college expenses.  To make a donation A “GoFundMe” account has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/f/rob-gardner-memorial-college-fund-for-korey 

The Design2Scale Challenge Seeks Innovations in 3rd Generation Biofuels

September, 27 / 2019

Algae technology developers take note! Fraunhofer TechBridge, a program of Fraunhofer USA, is now accepting applications for its newest TechBridge Challenge, the Designed2Scale Challenge presented in collaboration with ExxonMobil.

Fraunhofer TechBridgewill award up to $50,000 in prototyping, demonstration, and/or validation services from the world-renowned Fraunhofer R&D network to selected teams. 

Solutions of interest  include:

  • Technologies and strategies to aid in algal separation, cell disruption and pretreatment of microalgal cells, prior to lipid extraction
  • Technologies, strategies and processes to efficiently extract intracellular lipids from microalgae
  • New capabilities in microalgal downstream processing that minimize energy usage, chemical intensity and/or complexity

Proposals are due by November 15, 2019 at: www.designed2scalechallenge.com. Applicants and awardees’ intellectual property will be fully protected throughout the review process.

Students Recognized with 2019 Young Algae Researcher Awards

September, 26 / 2019

Four student scientists were recognized with the Algae Biomass Organization’s Young Algae Researcher Awards for their contributions to fields of algae biology and engineering at the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit, held in Orlando, Florida, September 16-19.

The awards are presented at the annual conference to recognize outstanding research projects by early-career scientists that are discovering the potential for algae to address a number of challenges in energy, human health, climate change, agriculture and more.

A panel of judges evaluated posters based on six key criteria: presentation, methodology, data analysis, poster integrity and the presentation of the poster by the presenter him or herself.

This year’s winners are:

1st place: 

Jackie Mettler, University of New Mexico
Poster title: Promoter Library Curation to Improve Genetic Engineering Efforts on an Industrially-Relevant Alga

 

2nd place

Karolína Ranglová, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic
Poster title: Biostimulant and Biopesticide Activity of Chlorella sp. Cultured in Pilot Scale 

3rd place: 

Haixin Peng, Auburn University
Poster title: Effects of Azospirillum brasilense on Microalgae UTEX 2714 and Bioproduct Production
 

Honorable Mention:

Farah Naaz, Centre for Rural Development and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)
Poster title: Comparative performance evaluation of synthetic media grown algae and wastewater grown algae on the basis of biocrude yield
 
Congratulations to each of these scientists! Their innovations are building the foundation for the technologies, products and companies of tomorrow.
 

 

Dispatch from the 2019 Algae Biomass Summit

September, 26 / 2019

The 2019 Algae Biomass Summit concluded last week in Orlando, and the takeaway for most attendees was that a wide range of technical and commercial breakthroughs have given algae a firm toehold in dozens of new markets around the globe, with many more to come. 

Who Was There? 

Hundreds of scientists, entrepreneurs, CEOs, business development executives, federal agency leaders, and others interested in taking advantage of the algae opportunity attended the Summit. They traveled from 23 countries, and represented 318 companies, universities and government agencies. Many came looking for an introduction to algae and left as full-fledged Algae Biomass Organization members, ready to leverage a new network of expertise and connections. 

Some of the Big Ideas

Our summary of the Summit’s opening day featured contributions from Cornell University’s Dr. Charles Greene on how algae is unmatched when it comes to addressing global sustainability challenges, as well as a panel from leading food companies that are using algae to meet the growing demand for greener, healthier and better tasting products. 

On day two of the Summit plenary panels addressed other aspects of algae’s future impacts. A discussion of algae’s ability to capture carbon from power and industrial emissions focused on the ABO’s efforts to ensure that algae was included in a recently amended tax credit program, known as 45Q, for carbon capture projects. The tax credit has attracted attention across the energy industry. 

“45Q has really motivated the industry, a number of projects are underway as a result of this incentive,” said John Litynsky, Deputy Director for Advanced Fossil Technology Systems in the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy.

An afternoon panel titled “Hot Megatrends: Voices From the Field” featured leaders in media, advanced materials, food and algae cultivation discussing how far the industry has come, and how far it can still reach.

Scott Lindell, a research specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution noted that even with the remarkable potential of land-based microalgae production, there are also vast offshore resources for macroalgae farming. “The oceans are the largest untapped growth opportunity for algal biomass,” he said. 

The Hot Megatrends panel at the 2019 Summit

At an evening reception attendees were treated to an exclusive sampling of algae-based foods from ALGAMA, as well as samples of algae cooking oil from Thrive, Omega-3 supplements from iWi, and dozens of other exhibitors. 

First Hand Technology Experience

The Summit closed with two tours of regional algae technology demonstrations. At Valensa International attendees were treated to a lab tour that featured the company’s supercritical CO2 biomass extraction technology. And at a tour of the Orlando Utility Commission’s Stanton Energy Center, attendees saw a Department of Energy sponsored demonstration of algae cultivation using CO2 feedstocks from power production. 

Touring Valensa International’s facilities outside Orlando.

 

Algae cultivation with carbon capture at the Orlando Utilities Commission’s Stanton Energy Center.

Social Media Buzz

Throughout the event attendees were busy on social media posting about sessions, food samples, tours, nightlife and more. Scroll through some of the Summit action on Twitter via #algae2019.

Some notable tweets:

Press About the Summit

Biofuels Digest, one of the premier publications monitoring developments in the bioeconomy was at the Summit and published several stories: 

Heard on the Floor at the Algae Biomass Summit
September 18, 2019

The Algae Summit, groups to know, slides to see, and the Megatrends
September 19, 2019

The Digest’s 2019 Multi-Slide Guide to the bioeconomy MEGATRENDS
September 19, 2019

Save the Date. See You in San Diego!

The buzz at the 2019 Summit was stronger than ever before, and attendees from a wide range of companies, government agencies, research institutions and universities made connections that will help move initiatives forward across the globe. 

The 2020 Summit will be held September 8-10 on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. The city is a hub of algae commercial and research activity, and the intimate campus setting is expected to make the networking, partnership-building and technical exchanges at the 2020 Algae Biomass Summit better than ever. See you there!