Presently, the land required for traditional agriculture is putting planet Earth and its varied life under extreme pressure and continued use of fossil fuels as a primary source of energy is now widely recognized to be unsustainable because of climate change, species extinction and the contribution of these fuels to climate change, environmental pollution and health problems. In Malaysia and Indonesia, the oil palm – Orangutan debate is just the tip of this huge iceberg.
Yet, World Food Prize recipient Gebisa Ejeta said in 2010, "We'll have to learn to produce as much food in the next four decades as we have since the beginning of civilization."
Humanity and our small blue planet are at a critical juncture. We have to move forward with care and intelligence.
The use of algae as an effective means to convert CO2, sunlight and waste into a wide range of products including drop-in fuels has been long known. Some estimate that, if all current agriculture were to be replaced with algal culture, about 97% of agricultural land could revert to forest. The water used would be a tiny fraction used by current agriculture. The benefits to the environment, the lack of competition for agricultural land and water, the ability to provide large quantities of food, animal feed, nutraceuticals and more, the ability to absorb CO2 and clean up our waste streams is overwhelmingly attractive. Microalgae must form a major part of our future.
The last major obstacle was to develop commercially viable cost effective algae systems, where CAPEX and OPEX are not prohibitive. This has been the primary goal of AIB and has now been achieved and demonstrated.
Research and development of low cost microalgae production systems was started in early 2006 by Jagjit Singh Kaurah (Jag), the founder of AIB.
From 2006 to early 2007 work on the system resulted in the first patent filed in Malaysia for the Floating Bed Method FBM in Feb 2007. This patent was published by WIPO in September 2008. It caused a major sensation - large numbers of universities, research organizations including NASA and the Weizmann Institute and many private organizations tried out the system for themselves:
Check it out at - http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/research/OMEGA/
In all, about RM 8 million has been spent on R&D over 10 years. Apart from funds contributed by the founder, directors and shareholders, the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) partly funded the R&D from December 2008 to December 2010 granting a total sum to this project about RM 946,000. In addition to that, SME Corp, a Malaysian Government Corporation granted around RM 400,000 for winning the award for innovation -1- Innocert.
The Malaysian Government has also granted the Bionexus status to AIB.
AIB was incorporated on 08/08/2008 for the purpose of further developing and commercialising the technology developed for microalgae and associated systems. It is a Malaysian majority public company owned by its shareholders.
AIB developed a small commercial farm using its Floating Bed Method (FBM) in Linggi, Negri Sembilan in 2011 and operated it through 2013 based on the research work completed until then. This plant successfully produced clean spirulina economically.
From Mid 2014 a better system called COSMAC has been developed and demonstrated. This system is capable of producing algal biomass competitive with agriculture and crude oil.
AIB has also developed a Simple Low Cost Microalgae Cultivation system (SILCOMS) for smaller start ups
Now AIB has a comprehensive plan to deploy the technology to grow microalgae globally.
Down the road, this technology would also be a very attractive and low cost option of converting deserts into lush farm land.
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