AlgaePrize: 5 Things You May Not Know About Algae

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Bioenergy Technologies Office


February 16, 2022

AlgaePrize: 5 Things You May Not Know About Algae


Students from across the United States will compete to help reduce CO2 emissions through algae commercialization.

The deadline to register a team for the inaugural 2022–2023 U.S. Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) AlgaePrize competition is March 2, 2022. If you have questions about the competition, you can register for an office hours event on February 17, 2022, at 1 p.m. ET with the organizers behind the AlgaePrize to get your questions answered. 

With this exciting news, we want to fuel your algae curiosity with five facts about algae you may not know.

Fact 1: Algae have the potential to be a key solution for expanding the production of sustainable fuels to help decarbonize the transportation sector.

BETO projections for the future state-of-the-art algae industry indicate that by 2030, algal technologies will be capable of scaling up to provide more than five billion gallons of fuel annually in the United States. This would represent more than 40% of all jet fuel consumed for U.S. domestic flights in 2019. The impact of such a shift would be equivalent to taking around five million cars off the road. Learn more

Fact 2: Algae biomass can be transformed into footwear.

Did you know that University of California San Diego students and researchers produced the world’s first algae-based, renewable flip-flops with support from BETO? Learn more

Fact 3: If earthlings can use algae to make chemicals on planet Earth—how much more might they offer astronauts with access to abundant carbon dioxide on Mars?

With support from BETO, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is researching how existing algae technology could convert carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water on Mars into green ethylene—a product that could be used for a range of building materials. Learn more

Fact 4: Algae are among the most diverse groups of organisms on earth, with more than 100,000 different species.

Algae are small aquatic organisms that convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis. Tapping into this algal diversity to discover advantageous traits and marketable products is one of the ways BETO is making biofuels an economic reality. Learn more

Fact 5: Algae can be used to create nutritional supplements.

A number of superfood supplement brands are cutting out the middle…fish…and going right to the source by extracting omega-3s directly from algae. These algae-based supplements appeal especially to vegetarian and vegan consumers, as well as consumers worried about consuming metals like mercury and other toxins that can accumulate in fish. Learn more

Expanding the algae bioeconomy calls for the next generation of science innovators to bring their ideas. The AlgaePrize is a new competition that encourages high school through graduate students studying at a U.S.-based high school, college, community college, university, and/or graduate school to pursue innovative ideas for the development, design, and invention of technologies within the commercial algae value chain.  

The AlgaePrize is sponsored by BETO with support from the Algae Foundation and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 

Find algae-related resources on the AlgaePrize Media Kit page and check out the new “Carbon Utilization Technology: Improving Efficient Systems for Algae” funding opportunity announcement which specifically aims to increase the capability of algal systems to capture carbon dioxide and put it to productive use.

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