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ABS11 Salt Lake City highlights

November 5, 2017

The Algae Biomass Summit (ABS) has transitioned from algae biofuels to higher value algae bioproducts. Most of the excitement in the 2017 version focused on nutrition for plants, animals and people, and the critical need for nutrient cycling. Algae’s role in health and nutrition was emphasized in several breakout presentations and with the opening plenary session.

In the opener, moderator Rebecca White, Vice President of Operations, Qualitas Health said that their mission is to revolutionize the way we nourish humanity by unleashing the potential of algae.

Qualitas Health currently has three sustainable algae farms that produce protein, oxygen, micronutrients, and support for rural communities. The algae farms are on unproductive land and salty water, so they do not compete with industrial farms.

Qualitas Health iwi drinks

The discussion centered around how algae offer key health and nutrition solutions for plants, animals and humans. Algae uniquely among all potential food sources, can provide sustainable alternative proteins, nutraceuticals and oils. Algae biofactories create a production platform for innovative therapies and new drugs. The panel discussed opportunities and challenges in bringing algae health solutions to the global market.

Miguel Calatayud, CEO, talked about how Qualitas Health will revolutionize farming with “new farmers.” Miguel has extensive experience growing peas to maximize protein per acre. He discovered algae is far more protein productive, as it grows faster and with fewer non-renewable inputs than peas, beans, corn or other field grains. Algae farmers will make healthier protein and provide a more sustainable future.

Qualitas Health is developing “new farmers”

Xun Wang, CEO, Triton Algae Innovations, builds on 30-years of algae science experience to develop highly productive platforms for production of natural proteins to support human and animal health. Xun described how Triton leverages natural algae traits to produce high levels of valuable and useful proteins.

Triton uses natural and genetic technology to develop high-value, life-changing, and affordable algae-based products. The company currently focuses on digestive health. Osteopontin, (left) for example, is a powerful and effective protein, which interacts with multiple systems in the body of all mammals, including the immune system. It also supports bone growth/resorption and accelerates wound healing. OPN has been shown to induce production of immune cells, and to support brain and cognitive development.

Triton Algae Innovations currently focuses on digestive health

  • Triton has developed a commercial viable production process for Chlamydomonas reinhardtii.
  • Productivity: Increased from < 0.4 to > 20 grams/liter/day.
  • Validations: Process validation by two independent contract manufacturers in 200-liter tanks, and 3,000-liter tanks.
  • Production costs: Estimated between $2 to $5 per kg (dried powder) when scaled to commercial production.

Triton’s rigorous chlamydomonas reinhardtii safety trials were successful. Three in vitro assays were completed and showed no adverse or toxic effects, including:

  • Mutagenicity (Ames Bacterial Reverse Mutation Assay)
  • Clastogenicity (Chromosomal Aberration Assay)
  • Genotoxicity (Mouse Micronucleus Assay)
  • A rodent feeding trial showed no adverse or toxic effects even at the highest dose levels.

The Triton platform enables production of a broad, diverse and valuable array of safe and effective – natural proteins. The platform allows the production of enzymes, antibodies, hormones, antibacterial proteins, antioxidants, chelator proteins and mineral binding proteins. Each of these proteins represents potentially high-value products in multiple market sectors, including infant formula, nutraceuticals, therapeutics and cosmetics.

Nutrient recovery

John Benemann, Tryg Lundquist and the MicroBio Engineering Team

Last year’s Algae Biomass Summit 10 in Phoenix included a half-day pre-conference workshop on water remediation where John Benemann and Tryg  Lundquist of MicroBio Engineering were the stars. This was not the first starring role for John Benemann. The workshop ignited an explosion of interest that resulted in 10+ presentations on nutrient cycling at ABS 11. The MicroBio Engineering team was very active with many interesting presentations on innovations in wastewater remediation, energy savings by avoiding mixing algae cultures at night, nutrient recovery and nutrient cycling.

Nutrient cycling

Algae and other microbial approaches to mitigating industrial carbon emissions have taken on a more international flavor following ratification of the Paris Climate accord late in 2016. Mark Allen moderated the Plenary Session on Nutrient Recycling and lead off with observations on the critical need for carbon capture, utilization, (CCU) and sequestration. Mark introduced various methods and noted that algae photosynthesis is both the most efficient and lowest cost method for carbon and other nutrient capture and reuse. Mark Allen highlighted the use of a new term in the wastewater treatment industry: “waste activated algae” in the process of capture and reuse. For over 50 years the principal wasterwater treatment process has been “waste activated sludge”, a bacteria based process that provides incomplete removal of nutrients. Waste activated algae completes the nutrient removal process and will be widely deployed by the industry.


(l. to r.) Mark Allen, Accelergy; Matt Lucas, Center for Carbon Removal; Dal Wayment, Utah South Davis Sewer District; Mark Edwards, ASU; and Rob Teegarden, Orlando Utilities Commission

Mark Edwards spoke on the looming phosphorus crisis and the opportunities it presents for cycling CO2, N, P, K, other nutrients and heavy metals. Mark predicts that in 20 years, experts will look back and say the largest contribution algae has made to society is the ability to cycle CO2 and other nutrients by harnessing nature’s incredible power of photosynthesis. Mark believes algae can help industrial farmers by saving up to half of their annual investment in feed and fertilizer with nutrient cycling. Nutrient cycling into algae biofertilizer could cut soil erosion by 50% and nutrient pollution to waterways and ecosystems by 80%. In addition, algae biofertilizer can restore soil organics, bioavailable nutrients, moisture retention and fertility. In a world where half the farmable land has been worn out an abandoned in the last 50 years, restoring soil fertility affordably amounts to a miracle for farmers and hungry consumers.

Rob Teegarden described his Orlando Utilities Commission project in Florida to monetize carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients from waste streams. Rob shared some incredible pictures of massive algae blooms that clog waterways. He explained the planned strategies to shift the waste stream to a profit center. The Florida project, that includes MicroBio Engineering and ASU AzCATI is exploring wastewater bioremediation and bioregeneration for bioproducts.

Weed algae degrade waterways in Florida

Orlando Utilities Commission’s future algae farm in Florida

Rob shared his vision forward with an algae farm collocated with the 900 MW coal fired power plant of 100 ponds over 1,000 acres. Rob’s team is working with Florida farmers and examining the production and use of biofertilizer and biofeed.

The Algae Biomass Summit 11 in Salt Lake City was a success with extraordinary innovation in algae food and nutrient cycling. Humans have broken the natural cycles for C, N, P, K, etc, which has created severely polluted ecosystems. Nutrient pollution has put human societies in a tail-spin of pollution and global climate chaos. Algae nutrient cycling can pull us out of the tail-spin by recovering nutrients and repurposing them into healthy food for plants, animals and people.

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