HY-TEK Bio: clean energy from fossil fuels

HY-TEK Bio 2013

Business Description:

Maryland-based HY-TEK Bio is an early stage company developing a patent-pending system to remove carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases from smoke stack flue gas.

HY-TEK Bio’s system scrubs the gas by funneling it into a sealed bioreactor that contains algae, wastewater, nutrient and LED lights. The algae feeds on pollutants in the wastewater and flue gas, yielding cleaner water and cleaner emissions. The process produces high-lipid-oil algae, a key ingredient in bio-plastics and biofuels, some skin care products, nutritional supplements, cosmetic and paint thickeners, and additives for both human and animal food products.

HY-TEK bio 1

Feng Chen, Associate Professor, UMCES

Challenge:

During phase one of HY-TEK Bio’s MIPS/DNR-funded project, UMCES researchers  combed hundreds of thousands of strains of known algae to select the one that would perform the best with HY-TEK Bio’s patented technology. The goal was to find one that could survive in an environment with 20 to 40 percent CO2 and respond to certain light wavelengths to promote faster growth. Ideally, the algae would also have a high lipid content for later use in the products mentioned above.

During phase two of the project, researchers fine-tuned the algae to perform at an industrial scale in HY-TEK Bio’s system.

HY-TEK Bio 2

Pictured: The newly isolated strain of algae from the Chesapeake Bay’s Back River tributary, named HTB-1, for HY-TEK Bio 1.

MIPS Role:

UMCES researchers isolated a new strain of algae from the Chesapeake Bay’s Back River tributary that grows fast, contains a 42-47 percent lipid content and survives in environments with as much as 100 percent CO2. The newly isolated strain was named HTB-1, for HY-TEK Bio 1.

During phase two, researchers optimized components of the flue gas-scrubbing system, including lighting, frequency, wavelength, duty cycling, bubble size absorption rates and various sources of nutrients.

Results:

The City of Baltimore granted HY-TEK Bio $255,000 to conduct a demonstration of their technology at Baltimore City’s Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant. The project has already demonstrated that the technology works, using just 10-foot tanks and providing an 85-90 percent mitigation of harmful gases from the methane-fired power plant. Baltimore City receives 50 percent of the algae produced.

Pictured, from left to right: Feng Chen, Associate Professor, UMCES; Bob Mroz, President and CEO, HY-TEK Bio; Jack French, Vice President, HY-TEK Bio.

Pictured, from left to right: Feng Chen, Associate Professor, UMCES; Bob Mroz, President and CEO, HY-TEK Bio; Jack French, Vice President, HY-TEK Bio.

MIPS-Related Quotes:

“As a result of the MIPS grant, we have been able to garner the support of Baltimore City for this project, which was precisely the support we needed to move towards commercialization. MIPS has been the key to moving our technology out of the lab and into the marketplace.”

– Bob Mroz, President and CEO, HY-TEK Bio

“We are moving to an entirely new concept in closed bioreactor design using our patent-pending mylar tank structure. This concept will revolutionize closed bioreactors. Our new ½ scale (4’x20’) mylar bioreactor tank holds nine tons of water (or algae). HY-TEK Bio is a classic example of the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program making a difference in helping a small company bring big ideas to market.”

— Bob Mroz, President and CEO, HY-TEK Bio

Interesting Fact:
HY-TEK Bio has received what it cites as “off-the-scale” support from local companies in its preferred corporate sponsor program. More than 20 local companies have provided HY-TEK Bio with hardware or services, at no expense.

Project Manager:  Robert M. Mroz;  Principal InvestigatorFeng Chen, UMCES
Location:  Dayton, Maryland – Howard County;  Project Start Date:  2/1/2012

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