BAE Weekly Seminar: Wednesday, April 23, 1-2 PM, 2045 Bainer Hall


Please join us for the weekly BAE seminar 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 
1:00-2:00 pm, 2045 BAINER HALL

From wastewater to biofuels, clean water, increased food 
production, improved environmental conditions, and a sustainable future 

Dr. Jonathan Trent 
NASA Ames Research Center 

While microalgae are touted as a source of sustainable biofuels that can be produced using wastewater to avoid competing with agriculture for water and fertilizer, traditional algae cultivation methods in ponds, raceways, and photobioreactors (PBRs) compete with agriculture for land. OMEGA (Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae) is a biofuels system that does not use land and provides other benefits for coastal cities that discharge their wastewater into protected bays. 

The integrated OMEGA system consists of flexible, clear, plastic tubes attached to a floating infrastructure (see Figure). The surrounding seawater controls the temperature of the system and kills the freshwater algae grown in wastewater if they escape, preventing cultivated algae from becoming invasive species in the marine environment. The offshore infrastructure provides a platform for solar panels, possibly wind and wave generators, and access to offshore sites for aquaculture. This integrated system, producing biofuels, treating wastewater, providing alternative energy and aquaculture products, improves the energy return on investment and economics of biofuels. 

The feasibility of OMEGA was investigated with support from the California Energy Commission (CEC) and NASA ($10.8M: 2010-2013).[1] I will discuss the next step, the OMEGA global initiative (OGI) to educate, empower, and motivate students, scientists, engineers, environmentalists and business-people to develop OMEGA systems around the world. 

Biography: Jonathan earned a Ph.D. in Marine Biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and did postdoctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Paris. He returned to the USA to work at Yale Medical School and Argonne National Laboratory before moving to NASA Ames Research Center. In addition to NASA, Jonathan is an adjunct professor at UC Santa Cruz and a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. Jonathans research contributions include marine biology, molecular medicine, astrobiology, and nanotechnology. OMEGA emerged from his project supported by Google called: Global Research into Energy and the Environment at NASA (GREEN). For more information on OMEGA see:

[1] For more info see: 

Coffee and cookies will be served.