go to http://www.aocs.org! Algaetech International — The Future is NowComplete Algae Monitoring System Visit  cricatalyst.com!Nexus — Leaders in Greenhouse Systems Integration

Innovations

Valicor and U-M collaborate on research and employment

April 25, 2014
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Bobby Levine, U-M alum, is now technology development manager at Valicor.

Bobby Levine, U-M alum, is now technology development manager at Valicor. Image credit: Lynn Monson

The collaboration in the last several years between Valicor Inc. and the University of Michigan College of Engineering illustrates how innovative programs can keep recent graduates working harmoniously on world-class technologies.

At the heart of the sharing agreement are important new scientific and technological advances in algae research. Valicor is working with the lab of U-M chemical engineering professor Phillip Savage on new, more efficient ways to extract oil and other elements from microalgae for use in biofuels, pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, animal feed and other products.

Valicor founder Tom Czartoski began extracting algal oils in 2007 as a natural extension of his original two business divisions. In 1996, Czartoski saw the need for a new industry that could clean and recycle factories’ industrial oils and metalworking fluids rather than throwing them away. His initial two-employee shop in Dexter, Michigan has become three divisions with 200 employees, facilities in several states and annual sales of more than $100 million.

The original business, now called Valicor Separation Technologies, involves centrifugal separation technology to clean fluids. A second division, Valicor Environmental Services, has a fleet of trucks that collect nonhazardous waste for processing and recycling, and the newest division, Valicor Renewables, is focused on commercializing the microalgae extraction.

Despite the company’s far-reaching growth, Czartoski had to reach out only about five miles into Ann Arbor – to U-M’s Business Engagement Center (BEC) – to find some of the world’s leading algae researchers. The BEC introduced Valicor to Savage and his research lab, then facilitated grants through the Michigan Corporate Relations Network, a collaboration of six state universities that connect Michigan corporations to university assets.

In October 2013, the network approved a $39,047 grant from its Small Company Innovation Program, which Valicor was required to match. The network also awarded smaller grants, Small Company Internship Awards, to pay for part of the salary of U-M graduate students working as interns at Valicor.

One of Savage’s doctoral candidates, Bobby Levine, worked with Valicor as a grad student, then as a part-time employee and is now the full-time technology development manager for Valicor Renewables. “It’s just sort of weird that I did this research on algae and right down the road there’s this company doing the same thing,” said Levine, who continues to interact with Savage and the lab’s grad students, and this summer, thanks to a SCIP grant, will supervise a U-M grad student intern.

Jennifer Aurandt, Valicor’s technology development program manager, also has a Ph.D. from U-M, in biological science, and worked at the university’s Life Sciences Institute when it first opened. She initially went into academia, but later joined Valicor in part because of its corporate commitment to sustainability. Aurandt said having U-M so close is an important advantage.

“It’s just nice knowing that if you have a question, there’s an expert eight minutes away from our office,” she said. “With the great university…with renowned experts, it’s really easy to pick up the phone and call one if we have a question. And they’ll have an answer.”

On the U-M side, Savage says the practical, hands-on concerns of a business, along with its workplace demands, are a valuable resource for professors and students in the academic world. “It’s a huge help to have a company like Valicor engaged with us in our research enterprise,” he said. “I think that there is some good synergy that can take place.”

The state grants and funds provided by companies help the academic research labs to press ahead with cutting-edge research, which in turn cycles back to benefit the companies wanting to commercialize the technology. “It makes a big difference,” Savage said of the funding for his lab.

Read More

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Heliae, SCHOTT North America and Arizona State University (ASU) have announced a partnership to bring Heliae’s algae production technology to ASU’s algae testbed facility...
Natural carotenoid specialists Piveg Inc., with production facilities based in Celaya, Central Mexico, has announced immediate availability of natural astaxanthin materia...
The University of Greenwich is leading a €10m international project, called the ‘D-Factory,’ to build a biorefinery to develop the microalga Dunaliella as a sustainable r...
Algae.Tec Ltd has received its first purchase order from Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings Limited (RIIHL), in connection with the arrangements announced on Ja...
Solazyme, Inc. has announced results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2013. “2013 was a year of great progress for Solazyme as we readied our first...
Valensa International and Contract Biotics have announced that Contract Biotics has started construction of an additional six acres of algae production units at the compa...
One of 12 winners of the 2014 Lexus Design Award, the Ooho algae balloon was created by three London-based designers to contribute a solution to the rising number of plas...
Students from three Arizona universities will demonstrate their algae research projects at an Innovation Showcase May 1, in Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Fitness C...
Yereth Rosen reports in the Anchorage Daily News that scientists at North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute have found extremely high levels o...
A series of articles by Stephen Mayfield and the UCSD Laboratory deserve recognition for their articles on algae-based medicines for malaria and cancer. Mayfield and his ...
Algenist®, Solazyme’s anti-aging skincare brand featuring microalgae, has announced its launch in Nordstrom locations throughout the United States. The launch into Nordst...
Santa Fe Community College has been awarded a $50,000, SEED Infrastructure Grant from the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), for commercial ...
Algal oil represents one of the significant segments within the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) ingredients market. Specifically, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is ...
Four years after the first optimistic calculations, the experimental cultivation of algae at Wageningen University in the Netherlands appears to be meeting expectations. ...
Jamie Radford writes in the Illawarra Mercury that Pia Winberg, from the University of Wollongong, believes that the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia (NSW) is in...
Steven Mufson reports for the Washington Post that Algenol Biofuels estimates hackers have attempted to break into its computers 39 million times in four months this year...
A recent discovery in the multicellular green alga, Volvox carteri,has revealed the origin of male and female sexes, showing how they evolved from a more primitive mating...
Perth, Western Australia-based Algae.Tec Limited has announced that the Reliance Group has converted the first tranche of options following the positive progress achieved...