Top 10 Bioeconomy Markets and Predictions for 2019

January 7, 2019 |

10. Algae apps

After a couple of years back on the bench, algae has surged forward again with a new series of apps for transport and chemicals, ready for what has become a wavelet of companies increasingly focused on what Mazda is calling “Sustainable Zoom Zoom”. Yield, rate, crop protection — all important issues. But critical to taking algae forward are the apps — and 2019 looms as a renaissance at the algae app store.

Mazda is investing in it. Honda is using it for R&D and potential byproducts. Algenol, AlgaEnergy and others grow and develop it. Euglena began producing it for biojet fuel at its new biofuel refinery plant in Japan. The U.S. government has a whole R&D department that is looking at this stuff. The list goes on. So why is algae living it up lately? It’s all about research and getting further down the path step by step with each discovery.

Mazda recently talked about algae being an important part of its Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 initiative, as reported in NUU in October Their goal is simple to promote the wide-spread adoption of biofuels from microalgae growth and reducing its average ‘Well-to-Wheel’ CO2 emissions to 50% of 2010 levels by 2030, and to 90% by 2050.

Today, Honda R&D Americas, Inc. is running an algal farm onside at their Ohio Center. In a ‘let’s go full circle’ way, the building s CO2 is used to grow algae that can then be converted into new energy and other valuable products.

There’s far more. For example, we reported in researchers in the chemistry and biology departments of the University of California have been awarded a $2 million grant from the US Department of Energy to advance their algae-based polymers research. We propose to develop novel algae platforms for the production of one of the key monomers used to make polyurethane polymers, while simultaneously developing basic tools to enable improved algal production systems that will accelerate the process from initial concept to market supply, says Stephen Mayfield, the project s leader. Mayfield is also director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology and the Food & Fuel for the 21st Century program.

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