Macroalgae Conversion Workshop

The large-scale cultivation of macroalgae (also known as seaweed) is increasingly recognized as a potential solution for removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, the economic bioextraction of nitrogen and phosphorus from eutrophic systems, and a source of carbon-neutral biomass for biofuels and bioproducts.  ARPA-E views macroalgae as a robust carbon-negative and resource-efficient feedstock for biofuels and bioproducts that does not compete with existing agricultural land.  ARPA-E’s MARINER program targets the development and deployment of new technologies for the economically viable production of macroalgae on a scale sufficient for bioenergy production.  A smaller satellite program is exploring the bioaccumulation capacities of macroalgae to mitigate excess nutrient concentration in various marine systems.  However, while these efforts are showing the promise of macroalgae for environmental services and are building new capabilities for large-scale seaweed farms, the economics surrounding algal cultivation will remain risky unless practical methods can be demonstrated for downstream processing of this biomass into products relevant to US energy needs: nitrogenous fertilizers and low-carbon fuels.  De-risking of early-stage technologies for the bioconversion of macroalgae to energy-relevant products could spark widespread market adoption.

This workshop was organized to gain insights from diverse domain experts and stakeholders on the opportunities and technical challenges for bioconversion and valorization of macroalgal feedstocks.  The featured speakers for the event have been selected from leading universities, large and small companies as well as investors focused on accelerating the adoption of low carbon technologies.

This workshop was open to the public, but an invitation was required to participate.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Seaweed Fuel & Fertilizer Market Opportunities and Challenges

Time (ET) Session/Speaker Topic/Comments

12:30 pm


Webex Trainings site opens

12:55 pm

Nancy Hicks

Housekeeping for Virtual Workshop

1:00 pm

Jennifer Gerbi
Deputy Director for Technology, ARPA-E

Welcome and introduction to ARPA-E

1:10 pm

Marc von Keitz
Program Director,

Seaweed Biorefining with Energy in Mind

(Workshop motivation, goals, and operating parameters)

1:40 pm

Jack Lewnard
Program Director,

Options for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG)
in a Low-Carbon Future

2:00 pm

Dan Fishman
Technology Manager, BETO

The Role of Renewable Transport Fuels in the United States

2:20 pm

Mike Reese
U Minnesota

Transitioning to Green Fertilizers in Agriculture: Outlook and Opportunities

2:40 pm

Marc von Keitz

Strawman FOA

2:55 pm

Marc von Keitz

Preview/homework for Day 2

3:00 pm

End of Workshop Day 1

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Saltwater conversion of seaweed to fuels and nitrogen/fertilizer

Time (ET) Session/Speaker Topic/Comments

1:00 pm

Marc von Keitz

Recap Day 1, Objectives for Day 2

1:10 pm

Michael Schuppenhauer

Perspective and Challenges of Anaerobic Digestion of Seaweed

1:25 pm

Hal May
Medical U South Carolina

Kevin Sowers
UMD Baltimore County

Harnessing the Power of Microbial Consortia

1:40 pm

Lieve Laurens

Kyphosid Ruminant Microbial Biodigestion of Seaweed (KRuMBS): Harnessing the Biological Model of Herbivorous Fish Gut Microbiome to Improve Seaweed Bioconversion

1:55 pm

Break for questions.

2:00 pm

Justin Billing
Dan Anderson

Challenges and Opportunities for Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Macroalgae

2:15 pm

Juan Josse

Marine Macroalgae Anaerobic Digestion for Resource Recovery

2:30 pm

Brian Saldanha

Challenges in Materials of Construction and Equipment Design for HTL Processes in Saltwater Environments

2:45 pm

Break for questions.  Transition to breakout session.

3:00 pm

Breakout session

Discussion of technical needs and target metrics


Group A1, A2

Focus on saltwater anaerobic digestion

David Babson, Program Director, ARPA-E
    Notes: Grace Ryan, Tech SETA

Jack Lewnard, Program Director, ARPA-E
    Notes: Dave Lee, Tech SETA

Group B

Focus on saltwater HTL

Doug Wicks, Program Director, ARPA-E
    Notes: Matt Mattozzi, Tech SETA

Group C

Focus on Nitrogen/Fertilizer recovery strategies

Krishna Doraiswamy, T2M Adviser, ARPA-E
    Notes: Dylan Temple, Tech SETA

4:15 pm

Break.  Transition to main meeting

4:20 pm

Breakout Session Read-out and Discussion

4:50 pm

Marc von Keitz

Closing Remarks

5:00 pm

End of Workshop


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