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October 9, 2015

Highlights From ABO Summit, Regulatory And Policy Panel


The Algae Biomass Summit, held in Washington, D.C. last week and claimed by organizers as the largest algae gathering in the world, featured the announcement of a new X-Prize to incentivize development of zero-carbon energy technologies, and some very honest and illuminating plenary sessions featuring leaders of algae businesses. More reports can be found on the Algae Biomass Organization's blog and by perusing the crowd-sourced reporting at Twitter #ABS15.

BRAG's Dr. Richard E. Engler led a panel discussing the legal, regulatory, and political considerations when commercializing algal products. Jeremiah Frueauf from Sterne Kessler spoke about creating an algae intellectual property portfolio. Marlena Hurley from Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) discussed political risk mitigation and investments in emerging markets. Chris Cassidy of USDA promoted the funding opportunities through the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, noting that this program applies to Advanced Biofuels, Renewable Chemicals, and Biobased products, and that there is wide borrower eligibility.

Dr. Engler then shared a presentation on how the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) applies to algae that is used as a fuel or industrial intermediate. He stressed that it does not matter if the substance is not toxic, appears to be a naturally occurring substance, or is very similar to something already on the TSCA inventory. Toxicity is not a factor in determining if a substance must be on the inventory and the definition of naturally occurring substances is very narrow; to be naturally occurring, a product cannot be chemically modified and microbes cannot have genetic material from a different genus. To request a copy of Dr. Engler's presentation, please e-mail your request to