Algae production was at the center stage of the $100 million XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition among other promising carbon removal technologies. The San Diego-based Global Algae Innovations company was one of the $1 million prize winners announced recently on Earth Day.
Global Algae Innovations was founded in 2013 by Dr. David Hazlebeck with the mission to address climate change through technology, service, and compassion.
The company wants to harness an unparalleled productivity of algae to provide food and fuel for the economy that could also replace carbon-intensive products like palm oil and soy among many other benefits.
Algae is one of the raw materials that have a proven environmental benefit as it sequesters carbon while growing. It also has the ability to raise the quality of life for people as it could provide low-emissions protein and oil products.
Algae could replace palm oil and soy which are one of the leading causes of deforestation in Southeast Asia and South America.
According to Global Algae, algae farms can produce nine times more oil and 23 times more protein per acre compared to palm or soy. That means one acre of algae would enable the restoration of 31 acres of rainforest.
The company has proposed a megaton scale project that is projected to capture 11 million tons of CO2 in rainforest regrowth per year.
CEO David “D3” Hazlebeck III claims that kind of productivity of algae farms can lift whole regions out of poverty as they are also more financially viable per acre of land. He says that financial win is the key for farmers for mass adoption of algae.
The company also marked a milestone last year as it received a $3.2 million grant awarded by the Biden Administration for developing alternative jet fuels.
The grant from XPRIZE would help the company build its Farm 160 in San Louis Obispo County – a new facility that will produce a couple of thousand tons of plastic per year which is part of its strategy to meet the objective CO2 sequestration target set by XPRIZE by 2025.
“We now have the technology package ready to scale-up and are excited to break ground on Farm 160 later this year… Farm 160 is the most critical next step to the commercialization of algae farming worldwide,” said David Hazlebeck.