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Algae-to-SAF partnership formed between AECOM, Genifuel

AECOM’s patent-pending technology physically removes harmful algae blooms, allowing recovered algae to be converted into commercial products such as biofuel.

Infrastructure-consulting firm AECOM announced March 23 it has signed a strategic agreement with Genifuel Corp. to scale production of carbon-neutral sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and biogas from wild algae and biosolids. The partnership employs a patent-pending process developed by AECOM to harvest wild algae and a patented process developed by Genifuel and U.S. DOE to convert algae and wastewater biosolids into renewable oil and gas. Together, these technologies provide a program to restore nutrient-impacted waterways and make positive use of wet waste material.

“We’re proud to pioneer advanced and scalable solutions that address the ecological issues caused by excessive algae growth,” said Dan Levy, vice president and director of algae programs with AECOM.

AECOM’s patent-pending “algae-harvesting hydronucleation flotation technology” physically removes harmful algae blooms, cyanotoxins, nutrients, and carbon from water, allowing recovered algae to be converted into commercial products such as biofuel. Genifuel’s patented hydrothermal processing uses heat and pressure to convert algae and biosolids into carbon-neutral biocrude and biogas, similar to the way fossil fuels are formed, but in minutes as opposed to millions of years and without adding new carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

“Both algae and wastewater solids have been proven as suitable feedstocks for SAF,” said James Oyler, president of Genifuel. “Our system allows for very fast conversion of the wet organic content, compressing the conversion to a matter of minutes. The output is biocrude oil or natural gas that is nearly identical to natural fossil equivalents, except they release no net new carbon dioxide. We look forward to our hydrothermal processing units being implemented at facilities across the U.S. in the near future.”

AECOM is a Fortune 500 firm and its professional-services business had revenue of $13.3 billion in 2021. Genifuel’s patented technology was sponsored by DOE through the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and its systems have been running since 2017. Current projects include a system to treat wastewater solids in Vancouver, Canada, and a mobile demonstration system currently in Florida to treat multiple waste streams for various industrial and municipal customers.


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