2014 YIR Part 3 — Honorable Mentions for 2014

The NAABB’s final report was released, and it's a big one.

The NAABB’s final report was released, and it’s a big one.

2014was a year of change, a year of innovation, a year of growth. Here are some of the most encouraging developments.

Most anticipated research results:

The National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts (NAABB) final report – it’s big and covers a lot of territory.

Most interesting related technology:

Proterro patented the company’s proprietary photobioreactor, a novel element in Proterro’s patented sugar-making process. Company advisor Harrison Dillon co-founded Solazyme – which feeds sugar to its fermenting algae. Coincidence?

Biggest groundswell algae cause:

ABO launched a “We the People” White House petition to drive awareness and support of Carbon Capture and Utilization. Nearly 350 respondents from 45 states and 215 cities signed the petition, demonstrating broad enthusiasm across the political spectrum.

Biggest pubic funding:

Solazyme announced the sale of 5,750,000 shares of its common stock, and other securities with aggregate net proceeds of approximately $202.8 million. Timing is everything.

Biggest government funding for algae:

EERE’s Targeted Algal Biofuels and Bioproducts (TABB) award of $13-25M for algal biofuel research to find alternative pathways to overcome two of the key barriers to commercializing algal biofuels: the high cost of producing algal biomass and the low yield of target biofuel and bioproduct feedstocks produced from algae.

Smart Microfarms blazed a trail for the small-scale algae farmer.

Smart Microfarms blazed a trail for the small-scale algae farmer.

Best high drama in the algae industry:

Algenol began the year by producing an algae sex tape (the first?) and then won the 2013 (Florida) Governor’s Innovators in Business Award (not for the sex tape, we’re assuming) and shortly thereafter ended a months long struggle to justify their statistical worthiness for state-sponsored funding. Simultaneously, the company was beseiged by hackers who attempted to break into their computers 39 million times in four months this year, the most serious of these were more than 63,000 attempts that came directly from China. But it doesn’t stop there. According to CEO Paul Woods, “Ironically, the greatest threat to our business is the bureaucracy of the EPA,” which inflicted costly delays and non-inclusive policies in their 2014 actions. And then, to close out the year, Algenol Biofuels was named the recipient of the 2014 Global Energy Award for Industry Leadership in Biofuels. And you think you had a wild year?

Biggest company reboot:

Aurora Algae pulled up stakes in Australia and moved all the way to southern Texas to set up their production operation, replacing their CEO along the way.

Most ambitious cultivation project:

Advanced Algal Technologies purchased animal nutrition company Ridley’s former salt fields in north Queensland, Australia, potentially making AAT the largest production facility of algae in the world – if they complete their plan to produce 500 acres of spirulina.

Best trailblazing effort:

Smart Microfarms continued to develop the practical prototype for home-style spirulina growers. Automated and networked functions were added to offer remote control and networked maintenance systems to small-scale algae farms.

Most Patriotic Algae Initiative:

The National Algae Association encouraged US algae producers to proudly label algae-based products “Made in the USA.”

Biggest food innovation(s):

Solazyme gets a twofer on this category for AlgaVia Protein, a golden-yellow powder with a pleasant savory flavor used as a source of protein, fiber, healthy lipids and micronutrients, in everything from nutrition bars and smoothies to crackers and gummy bears; and Algae Milk, a product of the company’s algalin flour made from microalgae and free of dairy, soy, lactose, and nuts.

Proterro patented their sugar-production bioreactor.

Proterro patented their sugar-production bioreactor.

Highest profile algae-as-a-construction-element usage:

In Hamburg, Germany, the SPLITTERWERK group-designed Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) building, with active algae facades, enjoyed its first year of operation.

Latest to join the Green Crude fraternity:

Muradel launched Australia’s first integrated demonstration plant to sustainably convert algae into green crude, as a first step towards a commercial plant with the potential to produce 80 million liters of crude oil a year.

(Sorry if we missed your important contribution to 2014’s Year in Algae. If so, please email us and we’ll happily pass along your news!)

All things considered, it was a challenging year in many ways for the industry and its investors. However the innovations powered by algae, the collaborative efforts across the globe, and even the broad scale replacement of top corporate leadership signals that 2015 will be ripe for finding new approaches to commercial success in the algae business.

It should be a dynamic year ahead for algae. We wish you great success in 2015!