MIPS Company HY-TEK Bio awarded $2 million to develop carbon mitigation technology utilizing algae with UMCES

Sparrows Point, Md.-based HY-TEK Bio LLC, winner of multiple Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) matching grants, received $2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to work with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) on a project to mitigate carbon dioxide from power plant flue gases.

HY-TEK Bio’s award, which teams the company with researchers from UMCES, Argonne National Laboratory, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, was one of seven projects selected by the DOE’s  Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s (FECM’s) Carbon Utilization Program to advance technologies that utilize waste carbon to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and produce reliable feedstocks and biotechnologies.

The funding opportunity announcement, entitled “Carbon Utilization Technology: Improving Efficient Systems for Algae,” furthers the government-wide approach to the climate crisis by driving innovation that can lead to the deployment of clean energy technologies by utilizing waste CO2.

For HY-TEK Bio’s project, the company will work with UMCES faculty to engineer microalgal polyculture through a photosynthesis-driven process using HY-TEK Bio’s unique “Pulsed Photosynthesis” grow light technology to capture and sequester carbon dioxide from power plant flue gases in the form of algae biomass and calcium carbonate precipitates. Residual algae biomass will be used to make non-energy products such as aquaculture feed, while calcium carbonate will be used to produce biocement.

Researchers engaged in the project include: Associate Professor Yantao Li (PI), Professor Feng Chen, and Professor Russell Hill, all with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Troy Hawkins, senior scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory; Robert Mroz, founder and CEO of HY-TEK Bio, and Associate Professor Wen Zhang, from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Funding for some of HY-TEK Bio’s MIPS projects has been provided by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Part of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), an initiative of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, MIPS provides matching grants for technology product development projects that team Maryland companies with researchers in Maryland public universities.

HY-TEK Bio is an early stage company developing a patent-pending system to remove carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases from smokestack flue gas using a unique strain of algae while producing valuable byproducts from the algae.

HY-TEK Bio is a registered XPRIZE Team. XPRIZE, funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, is a non-profit organization that designs and hosts public competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity.

Mroz earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1968.