US start-up Manta Biofuel gets USD 150,000 to advance algae harvesting tech

[USA] Maryland-based start-up Manta Biofuel LLC has received USD 150,000 (EUR 132,000) of seed capital to develop the next-generation prototype of its portable, solar-powered, floating algae harvester.

The investment comes from the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund and was announced by the University of Maryland on Monday.

Manta, which has recently set up a pilot production facility in Thurmont, Maryland, produces crude oil from algae at a cost competitive with petroleum, according to the announcement. The company’s harvester autonomously navigates through waters and collects algae, which is converted into crude oil through a process called hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). The harvesting technology was licensed from the university, where it was invented by the company’s  co-founder Ryan Powell.

The Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund supports Maryland start-ups that could improve air and water quality in the Chesapeake Bay area. It gets funds from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and is administered by the University of Maryland.

The hope is that Manta could eventually collect “deadly” algae blooms at the bay and turn them into crude oil. Algae blooms are harmful because they deprive marine life of oxygen and block sunlight for underwater bay grasses, the university explains.

 

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