How Fat is Your Algae?

The oppotunity is huge. Find a sustainable and cheaper substitute for fossile fuels and you can add huge value to humanity. But where do we look? We are heavily invested in researching solar and wind. And this has produced results.

But there is another potential source – algae. We have known for a long time that algae can be coaxed to produce more fat, a type of fuel. But we have not found a way to make this happen at scale. Attempts to do so failed and were shut down in the 1990’s.

But Nick Stockton writes for Wired that researchers may have figured this out. They were able to do this because they have a new tool that prior teams did not – genetic engineering.

In 2005, Craig Venter founded Synthetic Genomics as a lab to capitalize on some of his breakthroughs in genome research. One of Venter’s big ambitions for the company would be succeeding where the DOE, and many other companies, had failed: in developing algae capable of producing fuel on an industrial scale. Venter imagined city-sized fields of algae out in the Arizona desert. In 2009, Synthetic Genomics partnered with Exxon Mobil, and the algae project sprung forward.

Check out the article for a closer look at the challenges they faced and have overcome. They figured out the triggering mechanism for fat production in a particular type of algae.

We do not have a product yet. But we have a path to products that could produce amazing results for mankind.

Very exciting!


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