“It’s a way to keep the carbon cycle going by renewing the use of the algae into useful and safe products.”
A US-based startup is advancing an innovative way to transform algae used to purify municipal wastewater into speciality bio-based chemicals.
In a statement, Ohio-based Gen3Bio said its new technology could help reduce the risk of toxic algae blooms that often kill fish and surrounding wildlife. The company also aims to produce bioplastics and biofuels.
Algae from wastewater treatment facilities is typically disposed of in a landfill, which can be costly and environmentally challenging.
“There is a better way to repurpose this algae. We use our patented enzyme technology to break open the algae and take out the sugars, fats and proteins, and convert those into speciality chemicals,” said Kelvin Okamoto, founder and chief executive officer at Gen3Bio.
Okamoto added: “It’s a way to keep the carbon cycle going by renewing the use of the algae into useful and safe products.”
This is not the first time that Gen3Bio has said it was scaling up its process. In 2017, Okamoto outlined how his company was commercialising its algae extraction method. He said it used a low-cost algae extraction method to lyse open the algae cells by using a mix of commercially available enzymes. Lysing open the cells releases and separates the fats, sugars and proteins within the cells. The different chemical components can be sold or further converted into bio-based chemicals, biofuels and bioplastics.
After the extraction of nutrients, various speciality chemicals can be made and sold. For example, the proteins and lipids can be dried into products such as agricultural fish food.
According to Gen3Bio, a portion of the revenue generated from the speciality chemicals is given back to the wastewater facilities.
Gen3Bio has also received support from two environmental programmes – the US Water Council-sponsored BREW accelerator and Carbontech Labs, sponsored by Carbon180.
Gen3Bio is based at US-headquartered Purdue University, based in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The company has received assistance from the Purdue Foundry (@PurdueFoundry) – startup accelerator based in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship that works with any Indiana-based company.
The technology is patented and exclusively licensed from the University of Toledo.