A.I.M. Interview: Bioprocess Algae CEO Tim Burns
(Algae Industry Magazine) Many eyes are closely watching the development arc at Bioprocess Algae, in Shenandoah, Iowa, for signs that this might be the model for future farming.
…Tim Burns was also President, CEO and a co-founder of Bioprocess H2O, one of the four corporate partners, and the one that has shepherded Bioprocess Algae through its short but high profile early days. And while the operation may look like the beginning of the farm of the future, Burns is very clear on the business model he’s pursuing.
“If you looked at what we are about….we are about monetizing carbon. We provide a carbon-capture technology for production of a low cost, but high value, feedstock for feeds, food and fuel. That’s how we differentiate ourselves from the rest of the market.”
…Of the four partner organizations one might wonder what each is bringing to the party. Says Burns, “I would describe technology development and advanced technologies as coming out of the Bioprocess H2O group’s ingenuity and innovation. And then we have GPRE, a company that understands scale, as well as first generation biofuels, and how to grow a platform.
“With Clarcor you have a hundred-year-old, very conservative, very well capitalized, manufacturing company at scale with a $2-3 Billion market cap. – with distribution, materials and equipment available for when BPA builds out the commercial farms. And then you have NTR, which has taken a green technology approach for commercialization, and brings project financing, commercialization, and expertise in renewables.
…So these are the jobs of the future and if you look at these land grant schools, like Iowa State, and the University in Lincoln, Nebraska, they have incredible resources built around the agricultural economy – which is truly, in our opinion, how this economic recovery begins and continues.
I think the new economy will be based more on stuff we need, not stuff we want. As we move forward we need to produce more with less – less arable land, less resources, but more people to feed. And that’s the story of algae.
…Even though algae is new as a crop, the skills aren’t. The skills in wastewater, and food, and ag processing are here. We just have to get them plugged into the new industry grouping. When you look at the market size for feed and food, and the energy side of the equation; if the technology industry is a trillion dollar opportunity, this is a ten-times multiple of that.
…I’d rather algae be a story that is equally balanced in feed, food and fuel. And we get to fuels by having a coproduct market, by having low value oils that are cost competitive, by having other products coming off of these farms. That is the way we are going to enter into the fuel market. It will happen if you allow that coproduct market to evolve and you balance the conversation around feed and food, and not just fuel. I think some in this industry have really done themselves a disservice by just living in the fuel side of the conversation. We are as much protein starved in this world, if not more, than we are energy starved. READ MORE and MORE (Algae Industry Magazine) and MORE (Biomass Magazine)