Vermont Patent of the Month – February 2023
Algae is one of the most versatile and sustainable resources available to mankind. It has the potential to solve some of the most critical issues faced by our planet, including carbon emissions and waste management. Until now, the process of producing biofuels from algae has been hampered by high production costs. GSR Solutions LLC (GSR) just might have the solution.
GSR, a company focused on transforming excessive waste nutrients into value, have recently been granted a patent for their technology which produces useful products, like fertilizer and biofuel, from nutrients recovered from waste streams.
Livestock manure management is one of the primary environmental concerns globally, and the US Department of Agriculture estimated that over 335 million tons of “dry matter” waste were produced annually on farms in the United States. With animal feeding operations producing 100 times more manure than the amount of human sewage sludge processed annually, and dairy manure management practices unable to mitigate the environmental impact of nutrient runoff, it is clear that we need a new approach. Fortunately, the use of algae in wastewater treatment systems has been documented since the early 1950s, with algal turf scrubber systems being able to recover over 95% of the nitrogen and phosphorus in manure wastewater.
GSR’s solution addresses the challenges involved in material processing and production, including low lipid production and the availability of low-cost sugar feedstocks. Their solution combines biofuel production from algae with wastewater treatment, which has proven to be 40% more cost-effective than conventional alternatives. The process involves mass cultivation of algae to create nutritional supplements, fertilizers, and food additives, as well as biologically derived energy products such as biodiesel, bioethanol, and hydrogen gas.
The potential benefits of algae production are immense. Algal biomass can accumulate up to 50% carbon by dry weight, which can fix roughly 183 tons of CO2 per 100 tons of algal biomass. This provides tremendous potential for capturing CO2 emissions from power plant flue gasses and other fixed sources. Algae can also treat industrial, municipal, and agricultural wastewaters, capture carbon dioxide, and provide valuable byproducts such as protein-rich feed for farm animals, organic fertilizer, and feedstock for producing biogas.
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