Solarvest proposes the creation of an integrated process with three main components.
One, will be the capture of carbon dioxide in photobioreactors, using Solarvest proprietary microalgae to convert industrially produced CO2 and solar energy into algal biomass by photosynthesis.
The second, to maximize both the economical and energetic efficiency of the process, we will use the same algae to convert solar energy into hydrogen (“H2”) using the Solarvest continuous bio-production system.
The third, to maximize the capital costs of photobioreactors required to capture the H2, the Company will use these strains to produce commercial quantities of valuable biomolecules for the nutraceutical and animal health industries.
We propose to capture carbon dioxide (“CO2”) in photobioreactors using microalgae. This will convert industrially produced CO2 and solar energy into algal biomass by photosynthesis. This process can complement the current chemical/physical industrial methods in use for CO2 capture and storage that are costly and not always practical, such as sequestration methods into specifically selected geological formations. In contrast the algal biomass carbon is now in an organic state that can be utilized as soil fertilizers or easily handled and downstream processed into other commercial products.
Next , to maximize both the economic and energy efficiency of the process, we will use the same algae to convert solar energy into hydrogen. Solarvest has developed genetically engineered H2-producing algal strains that cyclically produce hydrogen under laboratory conditions. An important advantage to the Company’s CO2 sequestration process is that hydrogen can be evolved in tandem with CO2 sequestration in the same photobioreactor. Solarvest’s hydrogen production platform utilizes an innovative gene circuit engineered for production of hydrogen and oxygen in inter-oscillating phases. This approach has solved several of the most glaring problems with economic hydrogen production from micro-algae. Until now, methods developed to produce hydrogen from algae have required two separate bioreactors, one for biomass accumulation and CO2 sequestration and another for hydrogen production. This limitation of two tanks is inherent to these strategies and cannot be overcome easily, if at all. On the other hand, hydrogen production and CO2 usage in our platform occurs in a single photo-bioreactor. For industrial purposes, reducing the number of the bioreactors required for hydrogen production by 50% is an enormous innovation and will save on space and capital equipment costs. Secondly, previous hydrogen production methods required the starvation of algal cultures of an important macronutrient, such as sulphur. As a result, these systems suffer from a relatively short period of hydrogen production occurring at sub-optimum cell densities in a severely restrictive nutrient environment. Solarvest’s Hydrogen Technology Platform (“HTP”) eliminates the necessity for utilizing such a method. Hydrogen production in the HTP occurs in an optimal nutrient environment. The Company has demonstrated hydrogen production from a single batch culture for weeks rather than days at comparable rates of production to the two bioreactor system. Solarvest has an ongoing program to develop these strains to reach commercially viable production levels. This proposed methodology using solar energy to produce H2 will contribute to reducing the requirements for CO2 capture and storage in the future.
Finally, these strains will also have the ability to produce high amounts of valuable biomolecules. Metabolically modified organisms are being developed which express valuable proteins and or lipids to commercially utilize the resulting algal biomass as a feedstock or to extract biomolecules. By exploiting the full range of commercial products derived from algal biomass, this process can become revenue positive with multiple opportunities for economical development.