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.

Dispatch from the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit

October, 29 / 2018

This month hundreds of entrepreneurs, scientists, investors and government leaders gathered in Houston for the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit. The themes that emerged from the tours, speaker presentations, poster sessions and product demonstrations all pointed to an industry that is evolving, growing, and succeeding in more places than ever.

Check out Twitter hashtag #algae2018 to review some of the action, and be sure to take advantage of ABO’s fall recruitment discounts. Recruit a new member and get 20% off both memberships until November 15th!

Summit Highlights: A Billion Years in the Making


ABO’s executive director Matt Carr noted in his opening keynote that hundreds of millions of years ago algae enabled life on Earth by transforming the planet’s early atmosphere into the oxygen-rich climate we have today and providing the base of a thriving food web. Now they are being called upon once again as a living solution to greenhouse gas emissions, water shortages and land degradation, and to fill a massive (and still expanding) need for protein in the decades ahead.

The 2018 Summit distinguished itself from all those before with more discussions of how algae are meeting those challenges: from a new wave ofalgae-derived products on the market, to large industrial applications that are being set up to deliver commodity-level production, to the integration of algae cultivation into carbon abatement via direct capture, soil amendmentsand more.

Matt also called upon the assembled to come together in support of ABO’s expanding efforts to help the sector fulfill its global potential – including:

To give attendees a chance to help grow the ABO community, Matt announced the first ever ABO Member-get-a-Member campaign. Current ABO members who recruit a new member at an equivalent membership level or higher get 20% off both memberships until November 15th! Learn more here

 
Algae Product Showcase

The 2019 Algae Product Showcase at the Summit featured dozens of algae-derived products hitting markets all over the world.

The Commercial Evolution: Biofuels and Beyond

It was clear at the Summit that the algae industry has grown dramatically into new markets. The impressive innovations for algae biofuels reported by Exxon were just as engaging as companies that brought word of their efforts to disrupt markets with algae foams, plastics, foods, feed, nutritional supplements, yarns and other materials. 

Among the hot topics throughout the event was how the potential of algae should be communicated to consumers. Some speakers diverged on whether identifying algae as a preferred ingredient would command as much consumer interest as price or performance. 

“We need to make products that fit the market,” noted Qualitas Health’s CEO Miguel Calatayud. 

Others noted there was plenty of room to harness the excitement around products made with the world’s most sustainable crop, if only the story could be told correctly. 

 

The Summit’s Taste of Algae allowed attendees to sample the latest algae-based foods, supplements and ingredients in the exhibit hall and during meals & evening receptions.

At a panel titled “The Who, What, When, Where and How of a Compelling Case for Algae” several PR and marketing experts offered advice on how to get over some of the communications hurdles facing algae entrepreneurs. Among the tips:

  • Do copious amounts of market research to really learn what’s driving the purchase decisions of your customers – what’s important to them. And then adjust your marketing materials, messaging and packaging accordingly, noted Jill Kaufmann Johnson Head of Global Market Development for Algae Ingredients at Corbion.
  • Determine your company’s values and vision – your company’s “True North” early on, and use it as a competitive weapon, noted John Williams, president and founder of Scoville Public Relations. 
  • Science and technology are cool–just look at the rise of Neil DeGrass Tyson and others. Philip Henson, Creative Director at Something Massive, encouraged storytellers to use this trend as an asset when making the case for algae. 

The Summit also laid the groundwork for an even larger impact down the road. In a dynamic evening session, the Future of Algae in Food and Feed initiative attracted dozens of new participants, and a coalition of groups (including ABO, Carbon 180, the X-Prize Foundation and ASU Lightworks) pushing to use algae in carbon capture and utilization operations contributed a power-packed panel and day of programming dedicated to a new carbon economy. 

A Technical Edge

The Algae Biomass Summit began as a conference to find synergies among the technical and commercial applications of algae, and 2018 continued that tradition in spades. More than a hundred speakers and posters described new innovations and breakthroughs from the scientific community.  ABO will be making presentation slides available to attendees in the coming days!

On the final day of the Summit, ABO presented 6 poster presenters with theYoung Algae Researcher Awards for their contributions to algae science, from high school projects to post-doc research. 

Emerging Global Need

The Summit’s international attendees brought news of outstanding progress and growth in China, Australia, South Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. Over the three-day event a consensus began to emerge that a global effort to advocate for algae may be needed to accelerate the full potential that algae cultivation can provide economies and ecosystems around the world.

Join Us

At the Summit we heard from more companies and individuals than ever that are ready to join ABO and help push this industry forward. Be sure to take advantage of our fall membership special: recruit a new member into ABO and we’ll give you both 20% off. This deal expires November 15 th, so please contact Barb Scheevel ( bscheevel@algaebiomass.org) soon to arrange your discount!

See You In Orlando!

On the last day of the Summit ABO’s director Matt Carr announced that the 2019 event will be held in Orlando, Florida, September 16-19. 

Florida has a strong tradition of developing cultivation technologies, from ABO veterans like Algenol to newcomers like the Orlando Utilities Commission.

Florida’s recent battles with unprecedented algal blooms that threaten waterways and other areas also present an opportunity for the industry. Can advanced algae technologies play a role in stemming the destructive red tide? We’ll start to find out at next year’s Summit!  

Thank You Summit Sponsors and ABO Members

Thank you to all our members that made the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit such a success, and to the many sponsors that recognize leadership in the algae industry requires a one-of-a-kind event like the Algae Biomass Summit!

ABO Announces Six Winners of the Young Algae Researcher Awards at the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit

October, 24 / 2018

2018 Young Algae Researcher Award Winners

Six student scientists were presented with this year’s Young Algae Researcher Awards for their contributions to fields of algae biology and engineering at the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit, held in The Woodlands, Texas Oct 14-17.

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 more than 100 posters based on six key criteria: presentation, methodology, data analysis, poster integrity and the presentation of the poster by the presenter him or herself.

The Young Algae Research Awards are presented to winners for research conducted in two subject areas: biology and engineering.

For outstanding research in algae biology, awards went to:

First Place: Sarah Loftus, Duke University
Effect of Cultivation Water Reuse on the Accumulation of Dissolved Compounds and Algae Growth

Second Place: Jackie Mettler, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Targeted Knockout and Knock-in of Photoreceptor Genes to Improve Biomass Accumulation in Microalgae

Third Place: Nikita Bharati, Basha High School
A Novel Approach to Optimizing Algae Biofuel Production by Using Naturally Occurring Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS) Through Bioflocculation

For outstanding research in algae engineering, the awards went to:

First Place: Yang Han, Desert Research Institute
Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Marine and Freshwater Algae Biomass Using Co-solvents

Second Place: Yanxia Lin, Stevens Institute of Technology
Optimization of an Attached-growth System for Harvesting of Microalgae

Third Place: Stan Pankratz, University of Alberta
The Economics of Producing Algae Biomass in Canada for Biofuels Via Open Pond Raceways and Photo-bioreactors  

Congratulations to each of these scientists! Their innovations are building the foundation for the technologies, products and companies of tomorrow.

ABO Membership Drive: Discounts Available Now!

October, 1 / 2018

ABO’s Fall Membership Drive is underway and we are offering great discounts for new and existing members that want to be part of the algae revolution!

Help us recruit new members and get:

— Discounts on your Corporate or Individual membership rate

— Discounts for any new members you bring to ABO

Here are the details:

Corporate Level Members:

  • Existing corporate level members will receive a 20% discount on their 2019 membership for signing up new corporate level members.*
  • Each new corporate member you recruit will also receive a 20% discount on their 2019 membership.

Individual Level Members:

  • Existing individual level members will receive a 20% discount on their 2019 membership for signing up new individual level members.*
  • Each new individual member you recruit will receive a 50% discount on their 2019 membership.

Start Recruiting Now! Offer Expires on November 15th, 2018

Ready to sign up a new member?

Contact ABO’s Barb Scheevel today at 877.531.5512 ext. 1, or email her at bscheevel@algaebiomass.org

New members do not need to be coming in at the same level as the current member. The new member must complete payment by November 15, 2018. Following payment by the new member, the recruiting member will be invoiced for membership at the 20% discounted rate. Payment must be completed by December 31, 2018.

*Each new member will receive the new member discount. Recruiting members will only receive a single discount to their membership rate.

Congressional Algae Caucus Calls on Farm Bill Leaders to Support Algae Agriculture Provisions

September, 25 / 2018

In a letter to Farm Bill negotiators Friday, Congressional Algae Caucus Co-chairs Scott Peters of California and Darin LaHood of Illinois urged inclusion of key algae agriculture provisions in any compromise Farm Bill package. The letter is the latest indication of mounting support in Congress for an increased role for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in growing the algae agriculture sector.

Negotiators have been meeting this month to iron out differences between House and Senate versions of a Farm Bill package that would set farm policy and spending levels for the next five years. (The current Farm Bill is set to expire Sept 30th.) Among the items to be negotiated is the fate of several key policy proposals to ensure existing USDA programs fully support algae agriculture. The proposals were first introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators in H.R. 5373, the Algae Agriculture Act of 2018. One of the proposals (establishing a USDA algae research program) was included in the House version of the bill. Another (eliminating a restriction on algae in a crop assistance program) made the Senate bill. Friday’s letter calls for inclusion of these and two key additional provisions:

  1. Algae Research Initiative – Proposed in the Cornyn-Udall Senate floor amendment SA 3205, but not brought to a vote, the SA 3205 language improves on the Algae Agriculture Research Program language that was included in section 7208 of the House-passed bill (via Dunn Amendment #6 during markup) by providing specific research priorities and necessary authorization. SA 3205 should be included in the conference report.
  2. Crop Assistance for Algae – The absence of an established crop insurance program for algae production has been reported as the single greatest barrier to the establishment of new algae farms and the expansion of existing farms. Section 9 of House bill H.R. 5373, the Algae Agriculture Act, includes two key, no-cost provisions that would begin to pave the way for algae crop insurance. Modeled on provisions included on a bipartisan basis in the 2014 Farm Bill to lay the groundwork for crop insurance for sorghum, H.R. 5373 authorizes a study on development of crop insurance for algae and study adds explicit eligibility for algae under the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program. Section 9 of H.R. 5373 should be included in the conference report.
  3. Elimination of Algae BCAP Exclusion – Algae is inexplicably excluded from Collection, Harvest, Storage and Transportation (CHST) payments under the Title IX Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). This exclusion is eliminated under section 9110 of the Senate-passed bill. Section 9110 of the Senate-passed bill should be included in the conference report.
  4. Recycled Carbon Fixes – Definitional changes are needed to ensure eligibility of carbon-recycled products made with algae and other biological Carbon Capture and Use (CCU), as outlined in section 8 of the H.R. 5373, the Algae Agriculture Act. The Bennet-Whitehouse Senate floor amendment SA 3342 – based on H.R. 6457, the Carbon Utilization Act – proposed to include these vital, no-cost fixes, but the amendment was not included in the final bill. SA 3342 should be included in the conference report.

With the September 30 deadline fast approaching, there is now growing discussion of a possible short-term extension of the current Farm Bill to give negotiators additional time to come to agreement, but ABO is continuing to work with algae advocates on Capitol Hill to ensure the best possible outcome for the industry. Be sure to contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to support algae agriculture in the Farm Bill by fighting for these important provisions.

ABO Secures $44 million for Algae, Carbon Utilization Research in FY 2019

September, 24 / 2018

Following close on the heels of the U.S. Department of Energy’s latest round of algae funding awards, President Trump Friday signed into law a Fiscal Year 2019 spending bill providing an additional $44 million in FY2019 for algae and carbon utilization research — the highest funding level for algae research since the 2009 Recovery Act. The funding includes $32 million for the Advanced Algal Systems program under DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and $12 million for the Carbon Use and Reuse program under DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy. Both are increases of $2 million over FY2018 levels. 

The continued growth in federal algae funding is a testimony to the effectiveness of ABO’s ongoing work to educate policy makers on the promise of algae as a platform for carbon mitigation and sustainable production of everything from food and feed to biofuels and biomaterials; to the growing influence of the Congressional Algae Caucus, under the leadership of  Representatives Scott Peters of California, Darin LaHood of Illinois, Derek Kilmer of Washington, and Andy Biggs of Arizona; and to our Senate champions, including Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Thank you to all of our Champions of Algae!

Department of Energy Awards $17 Million to Algae Carbon Capture and Use, Other Algae Projects

September, 4 / 2018

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (DOE/BETO) selected eight algae projects for nearly $17 million in funding among 36 Bioenergy R&D awards issued today. The awards are the latest installment of funding under BETO’s Advanced Algal Systems program, which was established in 2016 in response to ABO’s successful effort to secure strong, sustained funding for algae research in the annual federal budget process. Congratulations to ABO organizational members AzCATI, Global Algae Innovations, LanzaTech and MicroBio Engineering, as well as our ABO individual member awardees. Thank you DOE/BETO for your continued investment.