ABO: DOT’s 2016 Billion-Ton Report shows potential of algae

By Algae Biomass Organization | July 14, 2016

The Algae Biomass Organization, the trade association for the algae industry, hailed the findings in the Department of Energy’s 2016 Billion-Ton Report that show the United States possess ample resources to produce large quantities of biomass from algae that can be processed into fuels, feed, food ingredients and other products.

Among the DOE’s findings on algae:

- Nearly 140,000 square miles of land suitable for open pond algae farms are available in the United States;

- CO2 resources in the United States could be used to produce nearly 1.4 billion tons of algae annually;

- An analysis of the productivity of a single strain of saltwater algae found the potential to produce 86 million tons of algal biomass annually and capture 211 million tons of CO2from coal, ethanol and natural gas sources.

“The Department of Energy has shown that even with the most conservative estimates it is possible to harness the latest algae technologies to not only generate large quantities of useful biomass, but also make substantial reductions in CO2 emissions from the power sector and other industries,” said Matt Carr, executive director of the Algae Biomass Organization. “The proven potential for algae to make this huge economic impact and reduce the costs of controlling greenhouse gas emissions should encourage more demonstrations of this technology at larger and larger scales.”

The findings of the Department of Energy come as several leaders in Congress are advocating for more research and incentives for technologies that can transform greenhouse gases into valuable products. In addition to funding research at the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, proposals in the House and Senate have sought to provide tax incentives for carbon utilization technologies that are on par with other carbon capture approaches. Earlier, the U.S. EPA included carbon capture and utilization in its Clean Power Plan after members of the algae research community and industry made clear the role the technology could play in national climate policy.

Carbon capture and utilization technologies, such as algae cultivation, can transform carbon dioxide emissions into valuable products, simultaneously reducing harmful greenhouse gases and providing economic benefits. A number of companies across the country are working to commercialize new technology advances that use algae to convert concentrated sources of CO2 into renewable fuels, chemicals, fertilizer, plastics and feed ingredients, as well as high-value products such as Omega-3 nutritional supplements, powerful antioxidants, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The latest innovations in carbon capture with algae will also be topics of discussion at the 2016 Algae Biomass Summit in Phoenix, Arizona, October 23-26.