Our list of startups trying to squeeze fuel from pond scum is growing as quickly as an algal bloom. Today we can add AXI, a new startup spun out of the University of Washington TechTransfer program, which has scored an undisclosed amount of funding from Allied Minds, a seed investment firm.
AXI says it has a technology that allows it to customize algal strains to its, or the distributors’, liking. There are basically three main areas of innovations that can add to the algae to fuel world: there’s the tweaking of algal strains, the development of bioreactor systems and the commercialization of fuel production. AXI joins players like Seambiotic, Aurora Biofuels and Solazyme who are all focused on developing superior strains of algae.
This means AXI doesn’t have to dabble with messy bioreactors or fuel fermenters that other startups are using to make biofuels — if it doesn’t want to. Instead, many on our list of startups could actually be customers for AXI’s algae strains. Rose Ann Cattolico, developer of the AXI technology at the University of Washington, said in a statement that its methods for developing “growth and productivity traits” will help the algae fuel industry improve output.