ALGIX is a clean technology company that produces sustainable products using aquaculture and water remediation. We operate and support sustainable fish farms for the combined production of fresh fish and algae biomass. We service the demand for fresh food and low-cost, bio-based feedstock for the renewable plastics industry. Our bioplastic technology blends aquatic feedstocks with commercial polymers to reduce cost and dependence on fossil-fuel and food-based feedstocks. We began to search for the “low hanging fruit” for algae biomass supply. We set our target on two primary sources of biomass, namely wastewater treatment and aquaculture. Our products further allow our customers to enhance the environmental footprint of their products. In 2014, ALGIX initiated the construction of the first algae plastic compounding plant in the world.
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- Globally (various continents)
This company also provides solutions for other industrial applications.
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We are committed to Life Cycle Thinking and further improving our products in order to produce more with less and to ensure sustainable resource use while alleviating the stress on the environment. Various life cycle analyses support the better performance of biobased rigid packaging, in particular in the impact categories of human health, ecosystems, climate change and fossil resources.
The ALGIX story started in 1994 when Mike Van Drunen, ALGIX co-founder, started EPSI, a company in the business of automated liquid filling equipment. EPSI introduced to the world the first high speed automated aseptic filling line. This technology allowed packagers to convert from expensive, heavy glass containers, to the cheaper, lighter plastic container. The glass to plastic revolution has started and EPSI quickly grew into one of the premier packaging companies in the industry. And since the packaging sector is the largest market for plastics, this set the course for the massive plastic waste problem we have today.
By 2008, Mr. Van Drunen was on the look out for the a feedstock that could be used to help brand owners introduce more sustainable products to the market and put a stop to the ever growing problem of filling up land fills, lakes and oceans with plastic garbage.
In 2009, Mr. Van Drunen’s wife Lisa saw an article placed by the University of Georgia (UGA) looking for help in an algae research project. Mr. Van Drunen had specific experience in cell lysing that UGA was interested in. Mr. Ryan Hunt was the researcher that Mike was assigned to work with and the relationship between Mike and Ryan had begun which led to the founding of ALGIX in August of 2010.
Meanwhile, in 2006, co-founder, Ryan Hunt, began researching the production of algae biomass as an alternative fuel source while an undergraduate physics student at the University of Georgia. In 2007, Mr. Hunt, and co-contributors, initiated the first algae research program at the University of Georgia’s Bioengineering department. Over the course of 4 years, Mr. Hunt’s small graduate student project blossomed into a multi-million dollar research effort within the Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program focusing on renewable biofuels and bioproducts from algae biomass.
After two years of intensive research, the team demonstrated the transesterification of algal oils from algae grown on carpet industry wastewater into biodiesel. However, it became clear that the high growth rates of algae were mutually exclusive with high oil contents in the harvested biomass. This meant that it would be challenging to grow algae for wastewater treatment and produce biofuels at the same time. Thus, we began to investigate alternative uses of the algae biomass.
In 2009, collaborative research between the University of Georgia’s Biological and Agricultural Engineering and Department of Textiles, discovered that the post extracted algae biomass, also known as algae meal, could be converted into a thermoplastic-like material using heat and pressure from compression molding. The research collaboration led to intellectual property disclosures and peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. From these efforts, ALGIX was spun out of the University of Georgia through a collaboration with Mr. Mike Van Drunen in 2010 as a Limited Liability Company. ALGIX secured the option agreement for the pending intellectual property which facilitated further development work through an State of Georgia research grant from the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA). The GRA VentureLabs grant allowed the laboratory results to be scaled up on pilot scale plastic processing equipment, such as extrusion compounding and injection molding. Through this work, ALGIX was able to generate the much needed proof of concepts in the form of algae blended resin pellets and injection molded articles used to promote the new technology.
In early 2012, the first round of strategic investors came on board to help provide the capital to scale up operations from research to commercial production. At this point, ALGIX had conducted two years of academic research and development generating the proof of concepts and engineering models for the building an algae plastic business . However, one of the primary limiting factors to the ALGIX business model was the procurement of large enough quantities of algae biomass to satisfy the scale of plastic converters and consumers. With the capital investment, research and development was accelerated to develop technology and processes for algae harvesting, particle size reduction, and plastic compounding to build the beginning of the algae feedstock supply chain and algae plastic industry. Through networking with other algae researchers and entrepreneurs, we began to realize that many of the algae biofuel projects were at small scale and taking a longer time than anticipated to expand to commercial scale.