Mark Edwards is confident that algae will be a starship sensation. After all, it’s already a regular marvel right here on the third rock from the sun.
Edwards, the Vice-President of Corporate Development and Marketing with Algae Biosciences Incorporated, has been chosen to present two scientific papers that promote the wonders of algae for the 100 Year Starship Study, an initiative headed up by the United States government’s Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) in collaboration with the NASA Ames Research Center.

Edwards, an Arizona State University professor, award-winning author, and celebrated “algae evangelist,” will be promoting the promise of algae, a quintessential building block of life on earth, in two separate categories — habitats and environmental science, and biology and space medicine — during the 100 Year Starship Study public symposium in Orlando, Fla., from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

DARPA’s 100 Year Starship program aims, over the next century, to work toward achieving interstellar travel, while delivering spinoff benefits along the way that will benefit mankind. The most resonant papers presented in Orlando will be reviewed, revised, and published internationally.

“A lot of the things we’re doing in Holbrook (at AlgaeBio’s production facility in northeast Arizona) are the same kinds of things we would do on a starship, just on a smaller scale,” says Edwards. “It’s all about nutrient recycle-recovery, and nutrient efficiency.

“This is a display of algae’s promise. We can produce everything we need on that spaceship with algae — freedom foods, functional foods, nutraceuticals, food supplements, medicines, and vaccines.”

AlgaeBio, an Arizona biotechnology company, is positioning itself to take a leadership role in the global microalgae industry in the coming months. First on the agenda is producing ultra-pure omega-3 fatty acid oils for international customers in the nutraceutical and food additive sectors.

Edwards’ paper on habitats and environmental science, co-authored by Robert Henrikson of Richmond, Calif., and Mark Buehrer of Bellingham, Wash., will focus on algae-based smart microfarms, which produce sustainable food, feed, oxygen, and other forms of energy by recycling the existing waste stream. Algae feeds high in nutrient density enhance growth and development for fish and animals, while organic algae biofertilizers accelerate growth of plants grown in water, air, or soil.

Edwards’ paper on biology and space medicine notes that algae is integral in the production of medicine, vaccines, and antibodies.

“I think these presentations are going to capture the imagination of a lot of people, and allow us to profile what algae can do for great numbers of people,” says Edwards. “There’s a lot to be gained here for the algae industry.

“I’m a big believer that a rising tide lifts all boats, and if I can create excitement about this subject, that will create even more innovation,” he adds. “On that starship, we’re producing food and other forms of energy with abundance methods — using inputs that are free, surplus, and sustainable.

“If you can create an algae-based production system on a starship, why can’t you do this on your back porch?”

AlgaeBio announced in mid-August a $5-million, first-phase expansion to its production facilities near Holbrook, Ariz., which will allow the company to reach large-scale commercial production levels by very early 2012.

Thanks to AlgaeBio’s market-leading production capabilities, downstream opportunities include: pharmaceuticals, such as designer proteins, vaccines, enzymes, antibodies, and research agents; sustainable biofuels; macroalgae for human food; organic pigments that can replace synthetic dyes in food and cosmetics; organic compounds called carotenoids, which as potent antioxidants reduce cell damage and fight disease; and liquid feed for marine life.


ABOUT ALGAE BIOSCIENCES INCORPORATED: AlgaeBio is an Arizona biotechnology company that researches, develops, and manufactures ultra-pure products from micro and macro algae such as nutraceuticals, food additives, and pharmaceuticals. With access to near-perfect algae growing conditions, exclusive aquaculture access to a pristine brine water supply, and advanced proprietary technology, AlgaeBio produces superior human and animal consumable products, as well as offering advanced algae-based products and technologies for distribution into the agribusiness, biofuel, and aquaculture markets. AlgaeBio owns and operates large-scale production facilities near Holbrook, Ariz., and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Algae Biosciences Corporation.


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