Research Foundation News

May 13, 2020

Purdue startup wins recognition, investments for technology on waste algae disposal

mobile-plant Gen3Bio’s 15-gallon mobile pilot plant is designed to operate on-site at algae producers. (Image provided) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University-affiliated startup focusing on technology to turn municipal wastewater algae into specialty chemicals has received its second financial award in just two weeks.

Gen3Bio Inc. has proprietary technology that redirects waste algae from an environmental hazard into profitable environmentally friendly products fully integrated into the circular economy. The startup has gained a $20,000 investment through the Elevate Nexus Regional Pre-Seed competition and a $20,000 pilot plant grant from The Water Council, with both announcements coming within weeks.

Algae is produced by wastewater treatment facilities to reduce discharged nutrients to prevent hazardous algae blooms, by industrial plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for reducing global warming and by algae harvesters. The algae is typically disposed of in a landfill at great capital and operational expense and subsequently releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

Gen3Bio’s technology has identified a unique way to transform the waste algae into biobased specialty chemicals such as aquaculture fish food, succinic acid or biodegradable plastics.

“There is a way to repurpose this algae from costly waste to beneficial material. Our patented enzyme technology breaks open the algae and extracts the nutrients required to create specialty chemicals that create useful and environmentally beneficial products,” said Kelvin Okamoto, founder and chief executive officer of Gen3Bio. “I’m thrilled that our technology is being recognized at both a local and national level.”

These recent successes will allow the organization to scale its pilot program in preparation for full commercialization. Last year, Gen3Bio participated in The Water Council’s BREW accelerator. 

The two recent awards allow Gen3Bio to demonstrate its process on site at a Wisconsin wastewater treatment facility using its 15-gallon mobile pilot plant being optimized in Gen3Bio’s wet lab at The University of Toledo. The pilot plant scales the process demonstrated in the lab on tens of diverse algae samples.

Gen3Bio is based in the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette, Indiana, and has received assistance from the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub housed in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Purdue’s Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus.

The technology also is patented and exclusively licensed from The University of Toledo.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds scholarships and grants; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park, Purdue Technology Centers and University Development Office. In 2020, the IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation and in the top 20 for patents. The foundation received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information about setting up a presence at Purdue, possibly in the Purdue Research Park or Discovery Park District, contact the PRF Economic Development Office at parksinfo@prf.org.

About Gen3Bio Inc.

Headquartered in the Kurz Purdue Technology Center in the Purdue Research Park, West Lafayette, Indiana, Gen3Bio Inc. is a startup, for-profit corporation focused on converting waste algae into specialty chemicals and soil and water biodegradable plastics. Gen3Bio uses a proprietary blend of enzymes to obtain cellular sugars, fats and proteins and from them, produces succinic acid, aquaculture fish food and other value-based products. Gen3Bio works with algae producers to eliminate high capital and operational costs for algae disposal that hinders implementation of algae technology by wastewater treatment facilities to reduce nutrient discharges that lead to hazardous algae blooms and dead zones, by companies to remove carbon dioxide from air emissions, and by algae harvesters. Gen3Bio is on the web at www.gen3bio.com.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Chris Adam, cladam@prf.org

Source: Kelvin Okamoto, kokamoto@gen3bio.com


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