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

September 19, 2019 |

The 2019 Algae Summit has come and gone, the delegates are winding their way back from Orlando, and we’ve seen that algae companies continue to be as resilient and adaptive as the organisms they work with.

The 15 MEGATRENDS

In the final plenary session, the Digest joined the stage for a session on MEGATRENDS, and we thought that we would tag our presentation for your attention, and you can review those 15 global macros here.

3 MUST SEE presentations

We’ve managed to get a hold of three presentations that really were the bomb at ABS 2019. Jonathan Male, director of the Bioenergy Technologies Office and one of the original Pyromaniax himself, gave this one on the algae R&D priorities and actions for fuels and the by-products that bring down the fuel’s costs.

Vidar Gundersen, the Global Sustainability Director at BioMar gave this stunner on Algae in Food and Feed Going Mainstream, and you can catch it right here.

Meanwhile, John Litynski, Deputy Director, Advanced Fossil Technology Systems gave this fascinating update on Carbon Capture Program Activities.

Carbon capture, fuels & co-products, food & feed — that really sums up the hot areas for algae commercialization and applied research.

5 Groups We Didn’t Know Well, and Liked

There were a host of good companies at ABS and we can’t say we visited with all, but here are 5 worth knowing that we got to know well for the first time.

Membranology. They are specialists in liquid phase filtration processes, with scalability expertise using “from physics to processes” approach. They’re skilled in the development of upstream and downstream membrane processes. And they offer customized membrane equipment from bench scale to large pilot applications. More about them here.

AquaFiber. AquaFiber is a surface water-technology company positioned at the intersection of Clean Water, Renewable Energy, and Human Health. The Florida-based company developed and tested a suite of technologies and proprietary processes (collectively called AquaLutions) that removes excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) along with other water pollutants to restore surface waters and ecosystem health. The process can be used to remove nutrients from the water column, legacy loads (unconsolidated muck layers) or from point source discharges. More about them here.

Gross-Wen Technologies. GWT, which actually owns the algae.com domain, uses its patented wastewater treatment technology, known as the revolving algal biofilm system (RAB), to cost-effectively recover nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater. Compared to other treatment options, their system is significantly more affordable and produces algae biomass which can be sold as a slow release algal fertilizer or bioplastic. More on GWT here.

A small gaggle of Icelandic companies. We had spotted Landsvirkjun National Power company of Iceland, and were intrigued. Turns out a bunch of them were in town, in a trade mission led by Invest in Iceland. The rationale? Iceland’s geothermal resources, competitively priced renewable electricity, abundance of pure cold water and cool climate create a unique opportunity for algae production. The industry is already growing fast in Iceland with producers such as Algalif and SagaNature up and running. The Icelandic power companies Landsvirkjun, ON Power and HS orka offer zoned land adjacent to their geothermal power plants for producers to use the multiple value and energy streams for a highly cost-efficient growth of algae. More on them here.

AzCATI. The Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation harnesses algae technology to produce renewable energy, food, feed and other valuable products, while performing environmental services to support a more sustainable future for society. Our core competencies are organized into three main platforms: Research, Education and Training, and Services. These platforms enable AzCATI team members to focus on their strengths and maximize our ability to interact effectively with existing and potential collaborators, and respond effectively to new funding calls from federal, state and industry sources. Strong and competent staff resources under Operations helps to streamline internal processes, raise awareness through communications and respond quickly to internal and external research collaboration, technology and market sector needs. More on them here.

The Bottom Line

Algae’s been through it, right as the Gartner Curve tells us a boom time of exuberance, a crash with all the excessive pessimism, and now there’s the rising path of enlightenment as we find out what algae is meant to do right now. Which is to bring forth food and feed and nutraceuticals, and as the co-products improve the economics and scale, then the door to the larger commodities such as fuels will come.

The pace depends on the pace of action on carbon, and especially the pace of action on fossil emissions where algae offers a CO2 remediation option that’s second to none. We’ll have to see how oil companies develop their carbon strategy — the more urgency they feel, the better for algae.

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