PHYCO2, MSU announce breakthrough in algae technology

By PHYCO2 | April 25, 2016

PHYCO2, an emerging algae growth and carbon dioxide sequestration company, has made a technology breakthrough in Phase I of the multi-year trial with Michigan State University.  The technology partnership set out to capture man-made carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas emission (GHG)) and create renewable alternative energy feedstock.  Phase I proved the technology can capture significant amounts of CO2 for high-density algae cultivation with the PHYCO2 patented algae photo bioreactor.

PHYCO2’s patented technology allows uncontaminated microalgae to grow indoors 24 hours a day, without sunlight, in any geographic location, year round. It is the first photo bioreactor to optimize algae growth by managing all the growth parameters (light, CO2 and nutrients).  Unlike previous open and closed systems, the PHYCO2 photo bioreactor system eliminates possible contamination from outside sources.  Discovering the specific amount of time that algae needs to be exposed to light, as well as the time needed to rest in order to properly cultivate, PHYCO2 developed a system that is market sustainable and commercial.

Working closely together, MSU and PHYCO2 found breakthrough results that out perform current open-pond systems, as well as competing studies being done at other universities.  Within the first round of testing, the two-month period showed an algae density of 1.7 g/L, a CO2 absorption rate of 52 percent, and a productivity rate of 0.34 g/l solution/ day, higher than the algae and production rates found at recently reported studies.

Built in the T.B. Simon Power Plant, PHYCO2’s photo bioreactor absorbs CO2 emissions directly from the plant, creating pure algae strands that can be used for a multitude of products.  Algae are used for an array of everyday products, from lipstick to ice cream, to gasoline and animal feed.  The team is preparing for a second round of testing, in which the focus will be on doubling their algae density and reaching a productivity rate that is eight times the Phase I rate.

“With the strong industry-university collaboration, the integration of the patented PHYCO2’s reactor and MSU selected algal strains could lead to a soon-commercially-available solution to sequester CO2 and produce high-value chemicals.  Colocating the APB with the power plant allows the process to utilize waste heat from the power plant to dry and process the produced algae to further improve the energy balance,” said Susie Liu, an assistant professor in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University.

“Results from Phase I testing demonstrates that our technology can be applied to manufacturers worldwide to reduce emissions, and create pure microalgae to be used as an alternate energy source, as we strive to create a market sustainable solution to address our environment without negatively impacting businesses,” said PHYCO2 CEO William Clary. “The next phases of testing will focus on how effective the photo bioreactor can be for power plants looking to reduce their carbon footprint, and how the technology can be implemented to absorb other airborne pollutants for further algae cultivation.”

The studies conducted at MSU with PHYCO2’s photo bioreactor represents the future of cleaner emissions and the first CO2 capture technology that truly is marketable, allowing MSU to continue to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.  The collaboration is a direct response to the White House and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s call documented in the Clean Power Plan, and the UN Climate Change Conference, recently held in Paris.  To follow the progress and learn more about the MSU and PHYCO2 partnership, you can visit