IIn the longterm, Manta Biofuel wants any water where algae grows to be a source for crude oil. To start, the company has manmade ponds in Thurmont, Md.
“We have about 15 acres of production capacity, which is sufficient for pilot-scale production,” said Ryan Powell, who invented the conversion process while working on his Ph.D. at Baltimore’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET).
With a licensing deal for the technology in place from University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the startup is working on commercial development of technology for harvesting oil from algae. The system includes growing algae that is then skimmed using solar-powered harvesters. The conversion is completed through a process that exposes the algae to high pressure and temperatures, known as hydrothermal liquefaction.