TransAlgaeTransAlgae was founded in 2008 to commercialise biotechnologies based on development and breeding of transgenic algae for the purpose of its cost-effective conversion into oil, protein and other co-products. TransAlgae is a registered USA company, with a research center located at the Weizmann Science Park in Rehovot, Israel and a business development office in Gates Mills, Ohio, USA.
Solar radiation is the key energy source for life on earth; sunlight is turned into usable energy by photosynthetic organisms. Fossil fuels are non-renewable and reserves are being depleted much faster than new ones are being formed. The use of fossil fuels raises environmental concerns; carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. TransAlgae strains of algae grow on a diet of seawater, sunlight, CO2 and utilise nutrients such as phosphate (P), nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) much more efficiently than higher plants. Any CO2 released with the burning of algal fuel is merely the CO2 consumed in the algae growth cycle. In the sense that fuel consumption would be essentially carbon-neutral, versus the significant generation of carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, this makes algae an important combatant in the fight against global warming. Algae have an unparalleled ability to grow much more rapidly than any traditional crop. First, algae are the most photosynthetically efficient organisms, meaning they convert more sunlight to energy than higher plants. Second, algae benefit from a potentially year-round growing cycle, depending on cultivation method and location. Third, algae can grow from beaker in the lab to commercial density in the field in days, enabling near constant harvesting. This compares to growth cycles of three to four months for soybeans and rapeseed, four to six months for corn, and longer than eight months for sugar cane. Extraction of the biofuel feedstock from algae leaves a high protein biomass of significant value. Most promising, the value of this feed may be significant enough to offset a large percentage of the cost of the algae production. This biomass can also be marketed directly for animal use, as a fishmeal replacement. If this is the case, then algae as a biofuel feedstock could be cost competitive much earlier than is currently anticipated.
CORE COMPETENCETransAlgae‘s has been established to build the framework for algal biofuel and animal feed, using genetic engineering combined with practical agricultural, industrial and economic approaches. In addition to higher productivity, the genetic approach enables rapid increases, multiple high-value products, biosafety mechanisms and contamination resistance. TransAlgae has applied for eight patents on its production technologies, harvesting processes and gene modifications. This powerful patent portfolio will increase the reliable yields of the portfolio of products, prevent contamination of the algal production systems, and protect the environment from inadvertent release of transgenic organisms. TransAlgae’s business model enables export of turn-key production systems that utilise the company’s algal strains, generating both immediate sales capital as well as a steady stream of product-based revenues shared with business partners worldwide. The vast markets for oil and feed, coupled with the system’s competitive pricing and continual supply of new and better strains will enable TransAlgae and its business partners to rapidly scale up production with minimal capital needs.
PRODUCTS AND SERVICESTransAlgae, as a breeding company, is developing genetically engineered strains of micro-algae to grow on sea-water in maximum sunlight, using carbon-dioxide from power plants or other sources, for large scale production in very inexpensive closed systems, appropriate for deserts or wastelands. A major product will be a replacement for fishmeal, which is becoming scarce due to rapid depletion from ocean fisheries, and most expensive component of the diets of penned fish, poultry and mono-gastric livestock. Oil that can be used either for biofuel or food use is the other major co-product. The algae are also being transformed to produce other medium value, large bulk market products. Various strains are being bred to meet changing market needs. The genetically engineered algae also contain genes that would prevent their establishment in natural ecosystems, should there be an inadvertent spill. The company‘s scientific team has completed its first generation of transgenic algae and a field research site has been established at a 400MW natural gas power station. Because of the availability of large amounts of fishmeal replacement, large, labour-intensive aquaculture and poultry industries could develop near algae production facilities. Thus, such interrelated industries would be appropriate for fresh water limited, tropical areas with large under-employed labour pools.