The world’s life forms are attributable to single cell organisms – algae and bacteria. Eons ago they sequestered the carbon dioxide (CO2) from the Earth’s atmosphere to make oxygen. Their oil rich structure layered the ocean floors to become today’s petroleum. Now, algae’s proteins provide ingredients found in baby food, sushi, milk, and even ice cream. Algae thrives on little more than sunlight, water and CO2. A process called photosynthesis. Most of us have grown it, reluctantly, in our childhood aquarium … or our backyard pool. PHYCO2 has harnessed the photosynthetic process to absorb CO2 and produce algae which is a marketable product for agriculture, animal feed, and human uses.
Like many crops grown world-wide, algae have a season dictated by nature’s environment. While sunlight, water, temperature and nutrients all contribute to algae’s growth, they also self-limit its production. However, with our patented and trade secret designs we can continuously grow and harvest algae, and absorb CO2.
The global market for algae sales is large and growing with an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.39% and a market size of $888mm. In Japan, China, US, and Europe the market is established for algae based products for food and nutritional supplements. Globally, the uses for algae include: food, food supplements, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, bio-stimulants, bio-insecticides/pesticides, bio-fuels, bio-polymers, and other chemical feedstock applications. Because of the large and growing uses for algae, we believe algae demand will increase.
PHYCO2 is focused to supply algae for the bio-stimulant market. Bio-stimulants are like fertilizer in that they help increase crop productivity. However, bio-stimulants act differently by improving solid conditions for naturally occurring fungus, bacteria, and other single cell species that improves root mass, nutrient uptake, water storage and release, and other factors. This leads to improvements in crop production. While there are other chemicals and organic materials that serve these functions, algae supplement their effects by contributing proteins and amino acids that positively affects the plants. Since bio-stimulant products are organic, they both support the movement to organic production and improve farmers output. Organic produce has gone beyond a niche business and is now a global mega-trend.
PHYCO2 also realizes the human nutrition market for algae. Several species of algae are currently sold in health food stores as a nutritional supplement. Algae can be found in health drinks, infant formula, can be used as an alternative to fish oil, and is packed with protein. Because PHYCO2 is able to grow very high purity algae, our algae is ideal for the human nutrition market.
Currently most algae are grown in ponds which are both land and water intensive. Its growth is limited to daylight hours, water quality, ambient temperatures, and it only grows on the surface where it can be contaminated by airborne agents. since the growing depth of the algae is limited, this can be viewed as a two (2) dimension production process. Algae in these ponds is grown in batches during daylight hours, instead of continuously.
PHYCO2 designed APBs with a different design guidelines. Our goal was continuous production, continuous operation, operating independent of location and sunlight, and three (3) dimension reactors to minimize the footprint of the algae reactors. Our initial design is patented in the US and Canada (US Patent # 8,476,067 B2, Canada Patent #2,712,862). The new designs are now patent pending. The patents define the APB design, operation, and the process for growing algae. In the process, our CO2 source is from exhaust gas (e.g. from an ethanol plant or power plant), it is cleaned, cooled, compressed and ducted to the APB where the CO2 is absorbed by the algae in a closed vessel filled with algae, water, and nutrients. Light is provided by an LED system. The wavelengths of light from the LEDs are tuned to maximize algae production. The APB is sited in a climate controlled building, where the APB unit is scaled to the algae production output desired, and operated 24/7/365. As the algae grows, it is harvested from the water solution, dried, and shipped as a paste or powder to companies that have contracted for the supply.