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 for details.

A big welcome to Membranology!

For more information visit

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 

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: 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!

Algae for Food & Feed Webinar Series

September, 25 / 2019

Register Now for Oct. 1 Webinar – Free

The Future of Algae for Food & Feed (FAFF) initiative was created as an engine for innovation and collaboration to accelerate the development of cost competitive algae-based food and feed products in the global marketplace

FAFF works to facilitate the development of products that will encourage consumers to make sustainable food choices through three strategic initiatives:


Join Us for Our 2019 Fall Webinar Series Presented in Partnership With:

Webinars include:

Food and Dietary Supplement Regulations: Application to Algal-based Ingredient Commercialization
Tuesday, October 1, 2019 / 12:00p PT

Algal-based Ingredients: Navigating a Complex Regulatory Environment for Animal Feed Uses
Thursday, November 7, 2019 / 12:00p PT

Register at

2019 Algae Biomass Summit Kicks Off in Orlando

September, 18 / 2019

The 2019 Algae Biomass Summit, largest algae conference in the world, kicked off Tuesday in Orlando, Florida with opening keynote presentations and plenary discussions focused on the latest research, commercial innovation and new products that are being made possible with advanced algae production technologies. 

Mark Allen, ABO’s board chair and Vice President at Accelergy Corporation, opened the Summit with an update on the developments that have propelled the algae industry’s growth over the past year. Milestones include a number of new innovations in algae-based products, new production facilities coming online, and growing bipartisan support for algae research, development and deployment. 

Allen pointed to provisions in federal budget legislation that expand on R&D support at the Department of Energy, including:

  • Up to $35 million in new funding for advanced algal systems projects selected by the Department of Energy’s Bioenergies Technologies Office.
  • Up to $30 million funding in the federal budget for the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory to support carbon capture projects, a large increase over the $14 million they received last year. Up to $6 million of this funding is specific to algae.

This is a $21 million increase over last year, and would not be possible without ABO’s engagement with bipartisan supporters in Congress, or the progress the industry continues to demonstrate in vital areas, said Allen.

The Summit kicks off in Orlando.

The event’s opening keynote by Dr. Charles Greene of Cornell University highlighted new research that demonstrates how the remarkable abilities of algae to grow fast, absorb carbon dioxide, and ease pressures on water and land use can help meet some of the most critical goals around climate change and global ecosystem preservation. Greene’s presentation examined the latest production potentials to conclude that the use of algae agriculture for food and energy instead of terrestrial crops could:

  • Produce millions of gallons of liquid hydrocarbon fuels required for jet aviation, heavy vehicles, marine shipping and other applications that will be difficult to electrify,
  • Produce the protein necessary to feed a global population approaching 10 billion people,
  • Conserve one fifth of global freshwater consumption,
  • Conserve one third of wild harvest fisheries,
  • Release nearly 3 million square kilometers of cropland for reforestation,
  • Decrease land use, and in combination with the decrease in fossil carbon emissions, account for a total reduction of approximately one quarter to one third of annual CO2 emissions by 2040.

Dr. Greene’s presentation envisioned a global algae cultivation industry.

The pressures on global food, energy and water supplies were a common theme on the first day of the Summit, but the need to develop products that meet the everyday demands of consumers was a lesson that some of the industry’s current leaders felt was just as important to ensure algae technologies and products become successful. 

A plenary panel titled “Algae in Food and Feed Going Mainstream” featured some of the leaders in micro- and macro-algae supply chains, including Corbion, BioMar, Bluglacier, NBO3 Technologies, Blue Evolution, and Algama. All agreed that as new products enter the market it will be necessary to leverage the sustainability advantages of algae, but also acknowledge the realities of market demand. 

Alvyn Severian, founder of Algama, a developer of algae-based foods, said his company’s priorities for a new product start with taste, but also include health, sustainability and pricing characteristics. “Our products must taste good or consumers will not buy them,” said Severin.

The Summit’s “Food and Feed Going Mainstream” panel.

 A second keynote introduced Summit attendees to one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy: agriculture. Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union discussed some of the implications of new algae provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill. The legislation that was signed into law late last year acknowledged algae for the first time as a crop, alongside corn, soy and others. 

Johnson highlighted a long history among farmers working with programs that incentivize new technologies for carbon capture, emissions reductions, water conservation, and land preservation–all big advantages that come with advanced algae cultivation. 

There’s always a frustration that change happens slowly, but new technology advances and political pressures are changing that,” said Johnson.

The Algae Biomass Summit continues today and tomorrow with sessions covering technical advances, breakthroughs in biology and production, new products and markets, and policy developments. The Summit concludes on Thursday with site tours of Valensa International’s CO2 extraction technology and a carbon capture and algae cultivation demonstration at the Orlando Utility Commission’s Stanton Energy Center. 

DOE’s Bio-Restore Workshop to Focus on Algae R&D Needs

September, 4 / 2019

EERE logoOn September 25 and 26, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE’s) Bioenergy Technologies Office will host a workshop to identify data and R&D needs to enable the use of dedicated energy crops and algae for restoring water quality and enhancing soil health, while creating a new feedstock supply for the bioeconomy. Participants will discuss the current state of technologies relevant to both terrestrial and algal biomass, as well as the potential for these technologies to reverse environmental degradation and provide important ecosystem services. If successful, these technologies have the potential to increase availability and reduce costs of bioenergy and bioproducts.

The workshop will focus on the current state-of-the-art and R&D needs pertaining to:   

  • Using dedicated energy crops to improve water quality and soil health (e.g., enhanced soil carbon levels) and provide other benefits
  • Algae technologies including direct harvest of algal blooms, turf scrubbers, and macroalgae
  • Quantification and valorization of ecosystem services
  • Low-cost sensors and data management systems that enable production of dedicated energy crops and algae
  • Overcoming challenges of integrating biomass production for restoration with bioenergy feedstock supply chain needs

This workshop will be held at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, IL.

Date and Time:

September 25: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

September 26: 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.


Argonne National Laboratory
9700 S. Cass Avenue
Lemont, IL 60439

Register now!

Retail Giant Tesco Call for More Algae-Based Salmon Feeds

August, 29 / 2019

UK-based retail giant Tesco has called for an increased use of algae-based feeds in farmed salmon. The news is a big development for the algae industry, the future of aquaculture, and those that are watching how global supply chains must become more sustainable to meet the needs of growing populations. 

As the world’s population grows, driving the need for more food, we will have to find ways to to produce more protein without causing additional pressures on global ecosystems. Algae-based omega 3s help to cut down on the use of wild-caught forage fish in feeds for farmed fish and are a crucial ingredient to enabling the growth of aquaculture while reducing pressure on wild fisheries. 

With more than 3,400 stores globally, Tesco’s power to influence supply chain standards means their call for more algal oil in feeds will likely influence others to do the same.

A number of ABO members have introduced algae-based salmon feed ingredients in the past few years, and with new production facilities coming online in just the past few months, it seems that the potential for algae to provide big strides in the name of sustainability is beginning to take shape. 

Read more at Seafood SourceFeed Navigator and  Intrafish.