[USA] Algae, that green scum often seen on the surface of ponds, and credited with harmful ocean algal blooms that kill ocean life might just hold an important key to addressing climate change. Algae, much like trees, uses carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis, sequestering CO2 as it grows.
Hypergiant, an AI products and solutions company, is harnessing this unique power of algae in its latest technology, the EOS bio-reactor which uses AI to optimize algae growth and carbon sequestration.
Its bioreactor is built to hook up to HVAC systems found in large industrial buildings, skyscrapers and apartment buildings which are some of the biggest contributors to global warming from the CO2 emitted through their energy usage and air conditioning systems.
The science is clear that we must not only cut our carbon emissions as a means to stop the irreversible harm of climate change and limit global warming but that we also need to take carbon out of the atmosphere to stay within the stated target 1.5 C of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The means of carbon sequestration vary from the often highly touted aim of planting a trillion trees, to direct air capture, which is the process of chemically scrubbing carbon dioxide directly from the air and then storing it either underground or developing products such as bioplastics. Other types of carbon sequestration include transitioning to regenerative farming practices and enhanced weathering which is a process that accelerates the erosion of rocks forming bicarbonate and over time, this bicarbonate washes into the ocean, settling onto the ocean floor where it is permanently stored. Project Vesta out of San Francisco is pursuing the unique approach of seeding beaches with olivine rocks and using the wave power of the ocean to accelerate this kind of rock weathering for CO2 removal.
While all of these solutions provide hope and should be aggressively pursued within the scientific and technological communities, Hypergiant believes that algae offers the strongest potential for impact. Algae’s unique qualities make it a prime candidate for scalability, such as its ability to survive in extreme temperatures, the fact that it does not need farmland to be cultivated, and that it can be grown in significantly higher quantities per square foot than land crops.
Using AI to Optimize Algae Growth
Hypergiant’s bioreactor uses machine intelligence in a variety of ways to optimize the growth of algae, which can then be harvested for other uses. Using AI, the bioreactor creates the perfect environment for algae to grow, through continuous monitoring, the system will adjust light, temperature, pH levels, bio-density, and control CO inputs to desired harvest cycles. The system is 400 times more effective at consuming CO2 than trees.
The bio-reactor then creates algae outputs in the form of “carbon hockey pucks”, which can be used as fuel, food, bio-plastic products and more. The bioreactor has a small and modular design that can be used to connect bio-reactors together creating bio-reactor farms that could be hooked up to large polluters, taking their dirty emissions and converting existing pollution into ecologically useful products such as sneakers!
Open Sourcing to Accelerate Innovation
While Hypergiant does plan to commercialize the bioreactor and sell installations to interested customers, it also has plans to outsource the design and release it to the maker community.
A problem as big as climate change needs a concerted and global effort on multiple fronts. We decided to open-source the algae bioreactor technology as a means of accelerating its innovation and scale.
Ben Lamm, Hypergiant Industries CEO
Expanding on the idea, Lamm continues “We want to encourage as many use cases as possible, from the hobbyist 3-D printing their own parts in their garage all the way through to commercial construction, where we can put reactors on the tops of big skyscrapers.”
In democratizing the technology, Hypergiant hopes to inspire a whole new crop of algae-preneurs who will take the designs and run with them. These algae-preneurs could build models small enough to sit on your counter to feed your daily smoothie habit or they could decide to develop the algae supply chain by taking the outputs and converting them into other types of commercially viable products. The beauty of algae is its versatility and ability to convert into products ranging from biofuels to bioplastics to food and beauty products. Hypergiant wants to release that potential out into the market at large – with the power of collaboration fueling innovation and entrepreneurship.
Examining the entire algae life cycle
If the EOS algae bioreactor is to be considered a viable climate drawdown solution, much attention needs to be given its entire lifecycle from the creation of the appliances themselves to how the algae is harvested and lastly what actually happens to the algae once it’s outputted.
For algae to be counted as a true carbon sink and drawdown, it needs to be converted into products that will keep it sequestered long-term rather than respired back into the atmosphere such as food and fuel.
According to Kevin Bayuk, Senior Research Fellow at Project Drawdown, some exciting possibilities also include replacement impacts vs. true drawdown.
“It’s exciting to note that algae derived biodiesel can be used as a replacement for fossil fuels such as diesel which have a much larger carbon footprint.” he notes “Even within our the food systems, the potential ability of algae to replace protein sources such as industrially produced meat means that if humanity switches to algae protein in large numbers, we could have a significant impact on reducing our current carbon greenhouse gas emissions budget. The same holds true for algae -derived replacements of chemical fertilizers which currently wreak havoc on our lands, waterways, and oceans.”
While replacement or mitigation, doesn’t count as an actual carbon drawdown, it does have the potential to significantly impact and reverse our current course. For example, algae -derived fertilizers could potentially displace the energy intensive “Haber -Bosch” process used in the creation of fertilizer. Algae can be a great fertilizer for the soil because it is rich in macronutrients such as potassium and phosphorus, and the negative impacts of chemical fertilizers could be significantly reduced. The same is true of traditional fuels, which could also be replaced by biofuels derived from algae.
One Idea, Many Solutions.
Hypergiant is leveraging a multi-pronged approach to algae innovation in a brilliant way.
- Developing an AI-driven technology with the ability to correct and improve itself without human intervention.
- Releasing the technology to the masses to enable the global acceleration and adoption of the technology, while facilitating more innovation.
- Opening up a new supply-chain with the potential to disrupt fossil fuel, fertilizer, food, and other markets.
Each of these approaches is revolutionary in and of itself, such as putting an idea out into the wild without fully capitalizing on its future potential to generate revenues, or enabling a new market to unfold without a foothold in each piece of the value chain.
Hypergiant’s strategy is based on its core ethos of collaboration and the understanding that “selflessness is needed to bring sustainability to life”. It is committed to building a better world through innovation and believes that innovation will be driven by humanitarianism. It’s refreshing and exciting to see companies adopt this kind of thinking. Today more than ever, humanity needs leaders that can think beyond the bottom line and realize that we are all in this together.
View original article at: Hypergiant is using AI and algae to take on climate change
Contact Algae World News for algae industry advertising and other opinions: [email protected]