The Buzz

AlgEternal Technologies Teams with UT and Open Algae

September 12, 2011

Barry Harrell writes in that Austin-based AlgEternal Technologies, LLC has cut the ribbon on its nearly completed “commercial” facility on the University of Texas at Austin’s J.J. Pickle Research Campus. The company is a collaboration among AlgEternal, UT’s Center for Electromechanics and the University’s UTEX Culture Collection of Algae. AlgEternal is also working with Austin-based OpenAlgae, a company with facilities at the Pickle Center that extracts oil from algae.

The concept for the algae cultivation company is to grow algae vertically, with a proprietary process using closely spaced tall plastic tube bioreactors. They hope to produce much more algae than by using other methods, according to AlgEternal Technologies’ CEO Rob Eissler, who is also a Republican state representative from The Woodlands, just north of Houston.

“For the industrialization or commercialization (of algae production), to have a research facility like UT be willing to get involved has been a big plus,” said Eissler, who became CEO about two years ago. The company currently has five employees.

The system was largely designed by Hugh Morris, AlgEternal’s founder and Chief Operations Officer. The company’s process is not unique, but the design combines a number of key elements, according to Jerry Brand, director of the UTEX Culture Collection of Algae and UT’s Jack S. Josey professor in energy studies.

“The AlgEternal system allows bioreactors to be very compact and also makes harvesting the algae much easier than in most kinds of bioreactors. The system is modular, so it can be scaled up to large volumes without sacrificing efficiency or risking contaminating the entire system when one module fails,” said Brand, who has taken an interest because the school “very much wants to get involved with large-scale culturing of algae for commercial uses.”

“The AlgEternal system can be placed in diverse locations and could easily be constructed adjacent to existing fish or shellfish farms,” Brand added.

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