Hydroalgae Power: making seawater a fuel

Our idea is to create a perpetual cycle for the sustainable source of energy, water and ammonia; three key resources needed in today’s resource constrained society. We plan to implement this with consumption of CO2 using solar energy and seawater using microorganisms in specially designed bioreactors. The organisms are to produce hydrogen through photosynthetic water splitting, which is to be used in production of ammonia and derive energy through chemical processes in order to circumvent the Carnot’s engine restriction. The end product being desalinated water is to be utilized for potable purposes.

1.       What drives you to work on climate adaptation?
Passionate about engineering from childhood, we have always been impressed by the developments and changes caused by Science and Technology. We were amazed by the ability of mankind to develop from steam engine to rocket science in a very short span of time and how we today are fighting poverty, hunger, terrorism, etc with the aid of technology and hard work. We were so engrossed with the love of science, technology and engineering that we considered ourselves to be blessed for being able to enroll in an engineering course of choice.

But this happiness was short lived, as we were brought to the harsh truth of global warming and climate change during our trekking trips and undergraduate course work. The entire blame was placed on Science and Development instead of realizing that we as humans have been using it in the wrong sense, as we have actually built it.

Hence, we were impressed by sustainability and wanted to use our knowledge and skills in making new technologies which are carbon neutral, sustainable and contribute very little to the change in lifestyle for humans in order to aid in the ease of acceptance amongst the society and customers. Hence, we are inspired to work towards the new age of ‘Green Engineers’.

2.       Where do you see yourself in 5 years with this project?
We have a vision and mission of making ‘Hydroalgae Power’ one the leading producers of energy, hydrogen and drinking water in Europe, having a strong brand value as the ‘Most Sustainable Company’. We aim to expand further to the global markets between years 3-5, once we have standardized the manufacturing process and worked out a reproducible proven business model.

Our primary markets would be the Southern European countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Malta. These are countries with ample sunshine, high density of population and well connected for ease of transportation. Hence, penetration into one of the most profitable markets in Europe gives us a market lead and helps in protecting it.

3.       What will you do when you win in September?
As we have already started building our prototype and minimum marketable unit/product, we will conduct the further analysis and standardize the process of hydrogen production. After we win in September, as all of the founders are yet to complete an internship in an industrial setting for graduation, we would like to take this idea into a pilot plant during that period under Climate-KIC in Valencia and test in real life scenario.

We are planning to enroll for the Climate-KIC Accelarator Program (Spain) in the mean time and continue the project and launch it as a startup if found successful. We would hence like to invest the prize money in our idea and apply for more crowd funding and grants in order to help us build the pilot plant.

 4.       Where do you perceive is the biggest challenge with respect to global climate adaptation?
The biggest challenge for Climate Change Adaptation is the lack of awareness amongst people as to how they can adopt in simple ways to help mitigate climate change by altering their lifestyle in a very simple manner. This in addition with the lack of any proven technology that can replace current unsustainable technologies adds up to the woes of policy makers in taking any concrete legislations in aiding the transition. Also any rapid decision of disinvesting from current technologies contributing to global climate change would only cause global economy disturbance, and further rules and plans must be laid out by governments for various stakeholders like corporates, citizens, governmental agencies for guiding them through the transition towards a sustainable future to help mitigate climate change.