Harnessing Algae’s Dark Reactions
Continuous oil production from waste, without light.
Missing Octave Insights, Inc., (MOII) was formed January 2004 as a technology development company, specializing in green and alternative applications of science. Dr. Gerald Keep, PhD Physical Chemist, President and owner of MOII, writes a blog at TheMOInsights.wordpress.com about the collision of people, science, and nature, and how we can make a better world.
MOII Past Technology Development Activities
We have pursued new technology in a number of markets, always bringing game-changing insights to bear, using chemistry fit for humankind. Some of our past innovations include:
The Algae Story – Don’t Cut Down the Apple Tree to get the Apples
Work in biomass and renewable energy production brought Dr Keep’s first exposure to Algae as an oil source in 2012. The problems with open pond and photobioreactor systems gave him an immediate insight – the industry is locked into the farmer’s paradigm of “harvesting the crops”. Algae is slowly grown and then slaughtered like cattle to extract what’s inside. Converting this paradigm to that of the dairy farmer gains the industrial efficiencies of a continuous rather than batch process, and bypasses the slow rate of growing new algae cells.
To prove out Dr. Keep’s initial ideas on how this could be done, MOII was joined in 2014 by Ms. Gwendolyn McGlothlen, BA in Biology, minor in chemistry, and a deep interest in anything green. In one year’s time, she has demonstrated how to use the Dark Reactions of our algae to produce lipids from carbohydrates, without the use of sunlight. A patent application for our process was filed in May of 2015. The patent was not pursued due to lack of financial backing.
The Algae Farm of the Future
We envisioned a high-capital, low-operating-cost system that takes the hundreds of billions of pounds of waste carbohydrates generated across the US annually from paper plants alone, and converts them to oil in a continuous process. Our bioreactor design does not require light, and so can be operated indoors, even underground, in a compact space, and in any climate. Our design places algae colonies on a special support and draws the oil off continuously as the algae rapidly consume any carbohydrates – hemicellulose, starch, or sugars – from any source. We plan to explore the economic feasibility of using agricultural wastes and municipal lawn and tree wastes.
As an added benefit, the oil produced by this algae is not TAGs for biodiesel, but rather is suited to processing in an oil refinery, so could mate with today’s existing infrastructure.
All patents have been abandoned and this technology is now in the public domain.