Macroalgae Workshop

ARPA-E held a workshop on "Innovative Approaches to Ocean Cultivation and Processing of Macroalgae for the Production of Fuels and Chemicals" on February 11-12, 2016 in the Washington, D.C. area.  

ARPA-E is interested in identifying critical R&D topics and targets, which need to be addressed to enable a successful transition from today’s macroalgae industry focused primarily on food and specialty chemicals to large-scale fuel and feed opportunities tomorrow.  This workshop brought together experts in macroalgae cultivation, physiology and ecology with those from complimentary fields of plant breeding, oceanography, marine engineering, robotics, and biomass processing, as well as agronomy and the financial community.

Areas of interest for discussion:

Breeding: existing breeding technologies for macroalgae, genomic tools, selection of species for algal cultivation based on suitability for breeding, transferring advanced terrestrial crop breeding tools to macroalgae.

Cultivation and Harvesting: site selection criteria (near-shore, off-shore, deep ocean), site and species specific cultivation system designs, hatchery and seeding technologies, nutrient supply and/or delivery, harvesting equipment, automation/robotics, integration/co-development of cultivation and harvesting systems, synergies with other aquaculture and off-shore energy installations.

Transport, Storage, and Processing:  technologies for dewatering, storage and ensiling, opportunities for off-shore storage & processing, processing/fractionation of macroalgae without freshwater.

Ecosystem Services and Effects: type and scale of potential ecosystem services (e.g. nutrient removal and CO2 sequestration) provided by macroalgae cultivation, impact of large-scale macroalgae cultivation on existing ecosystems and existing marine uses.

Product Opportunities and Commercial Stepping Stones: recognizing that fuels are the most challenging product target, we are interested in product opportunities which can serve as commercial stepping stones and sustain the growth and long-term financial viability of a US-based macroalgae industry on the path to fuel.

We hope that connections made during the workshop may also be helpful in forming creative teams able to propose innovative projects in response to a potential funding opportunity.

Additional resources: 

Teaming Partner List: Scalable Macroalgae Cultivation Technologies for Fuels and Chemicals

Attendee Resources and Additional Reading

2016 ARPA-E Innovation Summit Program Director Fast Pitch
Dr. Marc von Keitz - "Seaweed 2.0 – Farming the Oceans for Fuels & Chemicals"
View Presentation | Watch Video 

A summary of the event and presentation slides are available below. 

Day 1

8:30 am


8:30 am

Welcome and Introduction to ARPA-E
Eric Rohlfing, ARPA-E Deputy Director for Technology

Dr. Rohlfing provided an overview of ARPA-E’s history, purpose and programs. 

8:45 am

Workshop Introduction and Description
Marc von Keitz, Program Director, ARPA-E

Dr. von Keitz discussed the purpose and desired outcomes of the Macroalgae Workshop.  

9:00 am

History of U.S. Department of Energy Macroalgae Projects
Dr. John Benemann, CEO, Microbio Engineering, Inc

Dr. Benemann discussed the historic, current and potential market for macroalgae, existing macroalgae farms, the history of U.S. Dept. of Energy Macroalgae Projects and major conclusions arising from those projects.

9:25 am

Development of Open Source Seaweed Culture System Technologies in the Northeast US
Dr. Charles Yarish, Professor, University of Connecticut  

Dr. Yarish discussed the uses of seaweeds, the kelp farming process, kelp traits, and seeding and hybridization techniques. 

9:50 am

Macrocystis Production and Conversion in Chile
Dr. Alejandro Bushmann, Professor, Universidad de Los Lagos, Chile

Dr. Bushmann discussed lessons learned from kelp farms in Chile. Seeding, production, cultivation, productivity, genetics, and economic considerations are covered. 

10:45 am

Breakout Session #1

12:00 pm

Lunch and Breakout Session #1 Report 

12:50 pm

Macroalgae Cultivation in Korea/Asia with Emphasis on Emerging Technology Trends 
Dr. Jang Kim, Incheon National University, Korea, and University of Connecticut

Dr. Kim discussed emerging trends in Korea/Asia macroalgae farming, and also provided an overview of historic and current macroalgae cultivation

1:30 pm

Breakout Session #2

2:45 pm

Break and Breakout Session #2 Report 

3:30 pm

A US Seaweed Industry – View from the Largest US Market for Seaweed
Erick Ask

4:00 pm

Greenwave and the Opportunities for Distributed, Sustainable Ocean Farming
Bren Smith

4:15 pm

Breakout Session #3 and Report 

Day 2

9:00 am

Summary of Day 1 and Objectives for Day 2
Marc von Keitz, Program Director, ARPA-E

9:10 am

Ocean Homesteading? Science and Technology Needs for Smart Industry Planning and Management
Dr. Mike. Rust, Science Coordinator, Office of Aquaculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Dr. Rust explored the scientific and technological requirements and tools necessary for establishing and managing an ocean based macroalgae industry. 

9:50 am


10:30 am

Breakout Session 4: ARPA-E Funding Opportunity 

11:30 am


11:45 am

Breakout Session #4 Report

12:15 pm


1:00 pm

Closing Remarks
Marc von Keitz, Program Director, ARPA-E 

1:30- 4:00pm

Individual Meetings with Marc von Keitz and other ARPA-E Staff

Macroalgae Workshop Summary Report

ARPA-E Macroalgae Literature Review