NASA, Seambiotic partner in algae project

By Nicholas Zeman
Posted July 8, 2009, at 12:40 p.m. CST

Israel's Seambiotic Ltd., in Ashkelon, started in 2003 to "grow and process marine microalgae for the nutraceutical and biofuels industries." The company uses carbon dioxide emissions from power smokestacks for cultivation, and recently entered into an agreement with NASA Glenn Research Center to "develop an ongoing collaborative [research and development] for optimization of open-pond microalgae growth processes."

Seambiotic uses these waste products as a raw material to cultivate the microalgae, making it the cheapest method to harvest the organism, according to the company. The research was previously conducted on a pilot level but is now transitioning to a larger, more industrial scale, the company stated. Noam Menczel, director of investor relations and business development at Seambiotic, told the Jerusalem Post Tuesday that not many companies are recognized by NASA as a technology leader.

"Under a Space Act Agreement, NASA is partnering with Seambiotic USA to model growth processes for microalgae for use as an aviation biofuel feedstock," said Ami Ben-Amotz, chief scientific advisor to Seambiotic in an official statement. "The goal of the agreement is to make use of NASA's expertise in large-scale computational modeling and combine it with Seambiotic's biological process modeling to make advances in biomass process cost reduction."

NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is one of the agency's 10 field centers, focused on conducting basic-level research. The center works to develop technology and advance scientific projects.