Former Unibio CEO gets funding for startup aiming to make CO2 removal cost-neutral

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/kontrast-fotodesign
© GettyImages/kontrast-fotodesign

Related tags carbon capture Algae

New startup, ALGIECEL, has received funding of around £400K (US$525K) from Denmark’s BioInnovation Institute (BII) for the construction and testing of a pilot-scale, mobile container-based photobioreactor utilizing algae to sequester CO2 emissions from industrial processes.

The captured CO2 will be turned into high value commodity products such as omega-3 oils and protein to be used in food and feed products. 

This ‘carbon capture as service model’ uses micro-algae organisms and a modular photobioreactor fitted into standard shipping containers. The photobioreactor technology is easy to install, scale and operate, said the founder, former Unibio CEO, Henrik Busch-Larsen.

He started ALGIECEL mid-2021, with the vision of making CO2 removal cost-neutral.

He and the team have designed a business model that looks to transform the cost challenge of CO2 removal and potential emission penalties into a profitable business opportunity across the entire value chain, with revenue sharing central to the concept.

“Carbon emitters would need to invest in the photobioreactor but, when we start producing omega-3 oils and protein, the revenue from sales of those derivative products will be shared with the clients so, over time, the process would be cost-neutral, with clients, eventually, running a small profit off the back of their CO2 problem,”​ he told us.

The focus is on highly-compact units that can be set up next to the CO2 source. “We could even stack these containers, [which is another benefit of this model] as a lot of the industrial sites are limited for space.”

And as the process becomes more high-yielding, the idea would be to reduce the scale of on-site capacity in a staggered manner, said the founder.

Letters of interest signed 

Industrial emitters such as biogas plants have indicated strong interest in the service, said Busch-Larsen, and the startup has also had positive feedback from potential buyers of its algae-based derivative products.

“In terms of feed production, we could do everything on site, except for the final drying step. But we are investigating whether there are certain feed applications whereby you could use a wetter product.”

The startup has undergone a high-paced development process since it was founded.

A core team of highly skilled people has been established, and a pilot design project has been completed in close collaboration with partners such as RobLight, Böhme and AN Group. The company has also signed a collaboration agreement with the Danish Technological Institute (DTI), and the pilot photobioreactor, currently under construction as part of the Venture Lab program, will be installed at the DTI premises in May this year.

We are very confident on the technology side of it as the team has been working in this field for many years,”​ added Busch-Larsen.

The BII is an international non-profit foundation supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation. It operates an incubator to accelerate life science innovation.  

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