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.

Funding Opportunity: Algae Production Systems SBIR

August, 29 / 2018

The USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, a competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D), has opened a new opportunity that could support algae production systems. 

The SBIR Aquaculture topic area funds research projects that can improve the production efficiency and competitiveness of private sector, commercial aquaculture in the United States. Under the topic area, algae is listed as a qualifying technology.

Novel or innovative approaches to improve the efficiency of algal production and feedstock logistics including: identification of new (or improved) species with improved nutritional profile for use in aquaculture feed, human food, or food supplements; development of improved bioreactor technology; and development of new methods for harvesting algal biomass.

Phase I awards will be up to $100,000. Applications are due October 25.

Visit the SBIR site for more information. 

Put Algae in the Farm Bill!

August, 29 / 2018

This year Congress is debating a new Farm Bill, legislation that for years has supported agricultural industries, rural communities, and the American foods supply. 

Algae are fast becoming a significant component in food and health products, and it is time that this new crop was afforded the support by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that other crops have seen for decades.

Thanks to outreach by ABO and its members, a number of provisions are being considered in the new Farm Bill that could dramatically accelerate algae farming in the U.S., bringing economic benefits to rural areas and sustainable solutions to the world: 

1. Algae Research Initiative – Included in section 7208 of the House-passed bill, would establish for the first time an Algae Agriculture R&D program at USDA to complement existing work at the Department of Energy.  A Senate floor amendment (SA 3205) further strengthening the House provision was introduced by Senators Cornyn and Udall but not included in the final Senate bill. Urge your representatives in Congress to include Senate Amendment 3205 in the final Farm Bill package.

2.  Crop Assistance for Algae – The absence of an established crop insurance program for algae production may be the single greatest barrier to the establishment of new algae farms and the expansion of existing farms. Section 9 of H.R. 5373, the Algae Agriculture Act, includes two key, no-cost provisions that would begin to pave the way for algae crop insurance. Section 9 of H.R. 5373 should be included in the final Farm Bill package.

3.  Elimination of Algae BCAP Exclusion – Algae is 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 Provisions – The Senate-passed bill includes important provisions in support of algae and other Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) applications in rural America. Several additional definitional changes outlined in section 8 of H.R. 5373, the Algae Agriculture Act, and the Bennet-Whitehouse Senate floor amendment SA 3342 are also needed to ensure eligibility of recycled-carbon products. SA 3342 and Sections 7409, 9103, and 9113 of the Senate-passed bill should be included in the conference report.

Help us get algae into the Farm Bill! Contact your representatives today and tell them to support these four key asks.

These provisions are being discussed now, so be sure to make your voice heard soon!

Find your House representative’s phone numbers here.

Find your Senators’ phone numbers here.

Find their Twitter handle here.

Find their Facebook page here.


Ana Feeds our World by 2040, Making the Case for Algae in Food

August, 29 / 2018

ABO members are invited to get their free copy of a new book that makes the case for algae as a solution to intractable problems in the global food supply chain.

This will be an invaluable resource for business leaders that need to reach new audiences that are often unfamiliar with the role algae can play in countless markets.

In Ana Feeds our World by 2040 Dr. Mark Edwards, a professor at Arizona State University and expert on communicating the potential of algae, describes the adoption and diffusion of sustainable, healthy and affordable algae-based food for plants, animals and people.

The book shares how the lowest plant on the food chain creates a food renaissance with foods that are superior in nutrients, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds. These foods are also substantially more sustainable, productive and affordable than industrial foods.

Ana describes novel solutions for critical issues facing modern agriculture; protein shortages, cropland allocations, water supplies, energy, fertilizer, pesticides, pollution and climate chaos.

Dr. Edwards will be publishing excerpts of his new book on his blog, but ABO members can download their own, full-color PDF copy by logging into their ABO account at www.algaebiomass.org and navigating to the Member Resources page.


In Memoriam: Dr. Mark Hildebrand

August, 24 / 2018

ABO was saddened this month by the passing of marine biologist Dr. Mark Hildebrand, the leader of one of the United States’ top centers for algal biofuel research. He was 59. 

Hildebrand was director of the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and was also a founding member of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology. 

Early in his career Hildebrand became a pioneer of advanced molecular biology approaches related to the study of diatoms, tiny algae known for their silica-based cell walls. His research opened new avenues for the study of diatoms as producers of valuable lipids, the same oils that can be used to make biofuels and a range of other useful products. 

He was a fixture at national meetings of research leaders, and a mentor to countless students devoting their own studies to understanding algal biology and its potential to address global challenges. 

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technology Office ranked his program as the top in the country for algal biofuels research. 

He will be missed by the entire ABO membership. 

Scripps has posted more information about Mark’s incredible contributions here.