Hytek Bio’s CEO Robert Mroz and Vice President Jack French began their research on algae ten years ago with the goal of powering a jet using biofuel. According to Mroz, the original concept was to power a light plane, but when Mroz and French realized that algae can consume a considerable amount of CO2, they stopped trying to fly the plane and focused on how to grow algae efficiently.
Through their continued research, they discovered a specific strain of algae which they identified as “HTB1”, which has the potential to absorb CO2 emissions and other harmful greenhouse gases and create clean energy. In this week’s Bloomberg West Segment, Planet Forward’s Frank Sesno explores some of the possible applications of this technological breakthrough in sustainable energy.
After identifying the HTB1 algae strain, Hytek Bio set up a test facility in Baltimore’s Water Treatment Facility where methane is used to fuel power plants. According to Mroz, a portion of the exhaust from the plants gets filtered through a series of special HTB1-filled bio-reactors laminated in Mylar and Kevlar mesh. These reactors then consume the greenhouse gases and vent oxygen, creating clean energy.
Hytek Bio is not the only company exploring the sustainable possibilities of algae. According to The Atlantic Cities, a French start-up called FermentAlg has created the world’s first algae street lamp. Located in Bordeaux, it does not require electricity because it is powered by batteries that are charged by the algae’s photosynthesis and sunlight. Similar to Hytek Bio’s technology, the lamp consumes CO2. According to the lamp’s designer, Pierre Calleja, if these lamps lined major roadways around the world, they could have a massive effect on climate change by absorbing car exhaust.
Mroz maintains that the cost of implementing Hytek Bio’s bio-reactor technology would be low.
“Normally, stainless steel tanks cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We can do that with a special material we discovered and bring the price down by 90 percent,” said Mroz. “We also found a way of lighting the reactors with LED lights that would reduce the energy required to help the algae grow at a maximum rate of 90-percent-less energy.”
Thanks to its financial and environmental benefits, algae is growing into a viable product for sustainable industry.