U.S. Department of Energy Announces $5 Million to Explore Critical Mineral Extraction from Macroalgae in the Ocean

ARPA-E Seeks to Study Macroalgae as Potential Source of Critical Rare Earth Elements

Press and General Inquiries:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $5M in funding to evaluate the feasibility of extracting rare earth and other high-value trace critical minerals from macroalgae.

“Seaweeds accumulate trace metals in such an efficient way that this process is sometimes used to clean up polluted harbors. It would be transformative if we could harness that capability to harvest the critical rare earths we need for a net-zero economy in a low-impact way using this natural ability,” said ARPA-E Director Evelyn N. Wang.

The funding is part of the new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Critical Mineral Extraction from Ocean Macroalgal Biomass Exploratory Topic aimed at evaluating the capabilities of macroalgal varieties to accumulate critical minerals and the ability to efficiently extract these minerals in an economically viable form. The Critical Mineral Extraction from Ocean Macroalgal Biomass Exploratory Topic will focus on:

1) Identifying mechanisms and maximizing the bioaccumulation of elements in brown or red marine macroalgal species; and
2) Developing new processes for the efficient extraction and processing of elements into usable forms for energy applications from macroalgal biomass alongside valorization of other macroalgal components (i.e., carbon content, nitrates, etc.).

You can access more information on ARPA-E eXCHANGE.