NASA teams with Seambiotic on R&D programme to optimize algae growth for aviation fuel development
Seambiotic algae open pond
Fri 10 July – NASA Glenn Research Center and the US subsidiary of Israel-based Seambiotic have signed an agreement to develop a research and development programme to optimize open-pond microalgae growth processes. The partners will work together to improve production processes and to study and qualify algae oil from alternative species and production processes as candidate aviation fuel at NASA’s test facilities. NASA’s Ames Research Center is already investigating the potential of algae as an aviation biofuel and is currently growing algae in plastic bags of sewage floating in the ocean (see NY Times article).
“Under a Space Act Agreement, NASA is partnering with Seambiotic USA to model growth processes for microalgae for use as aviation biofuel feedstock,” said Prof Ami Ben-Amotz, Chief Scientific Adviser to Seambiotic. “The goal of the agreement is to make use of NASA’s expertise in large scale computational modelling and combine it with Seambiotic’s biological process modelling to make advances in biomass process cost reduction.”
Founded in 2003, Seambiotic grows and processes marine microalgae for the nutraceutical and biofuel industries. Last year, Seambiotic entered into an agreement with Seattle-based Inventure Chemicals to build a pilot commercial biofuel plant in Israel using algae created from CO2 emissions as feedstock.
The company is currently taking part in a pilot study at an Israeli Electric Corporation power station near the city of Ashkelon, where various species of marine microalgae have been successfully cultivated using the power station’s CO2 emissions released directly from their smokestacks. The microalgae are in turn used as feedstock for biofuel. Seambiotic says it is currently in transition from the pilot plant stage to large scale industrial algae cultivation and production.