|Algae will be used to combat climate change / Photo Credit: Chokniti Khongchum (via Shutterstock)|
Daniel T. Allen of American business and financial news website Business Insider stated that algae only need carbon dioxide, light, and water for them to take over. But what if AI is leveraged to transform these microorganisms from a growing pest to a tool to combat climate change? Researchers at AI tech company Hypergiant perceive algae as a weapon that can be used for the benefit of humankind. They developed an AI-powered machine, the EOS bioreactor, that utilizes an algae’s ability to acquire carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. They said their bioreactor can “draw as much carbon dioxide out of the air as an acre of trees” by optimizing the algae’s growing environment.
The bioreactor harnesses the natural process of photosynthesis, filtering emissions and getting carbon. The glass tubes inside the machine bubble with water and algae that are grown in artificial light. The AI regulates and monitors the growth of algae. Hypergiant’s research and development director Daniel Haab said the bioreactor is completely enabled by AI. He justified, “Our goal is to make it so that no one needs to monitor or maintain this machine when it's out in the field.” After the reactor captures carbon dioxide, the algae can be harvested and extracted into a dry film.
The dried algae can be mixed into animal feed or fertilizer. It can also be used as an ingredient in consumer products such as moisturizer and nutritional supplements. Haab stated, “You can do a lot of things with it and you can grow it literally anywhere.” However, the firm did not mention how many bioreactors would be required to create a profound impact on the climate or whether it would be commercially viable. Hypergiant CEO Ben Lamm said, “‘Tomorrowing today,' our tagline, is about delivering the future that we were promised that we've read about, that we've heard politicians talk about.”
The idea is to launch a build-it-yourself model to the masses. Haab hopes that the model will be done by creating an open-source plan. The firm’s goal is to establish a “connected grid of bioreactors that are all learning from each other, feeding each other information." This is an ambitious goal but this approach will not sequester carbon at a rate high enough to combat climate change, as noted by Kevin Flynn, a marine biologist at Swansea University in Wales.