Sea6 Energy is a Bangaluru, India based startup attempting to produce ethanol from the fermentation of sugars extracted from seaweed. It was formed in 2010 by Mr. Shrikumar Suryanarayan a professor at Indian Institute of Technology Madras. Sea6 Energy’s laboratory is located at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (CCAMP), NCBS-TIFR, GKVK Campus, Bangalore, India. Department of Biotechnology, Government of India is one of the key investors in the venture.
Seaweed to ethanol
Traditionally seaweeds, also called macro-algae, are grown for speciality food products. Its potential as a biofuel feedstock lies in the fact that it grows on the surface of the sea while extracting nutrients from the flowing sea water. Seaweed biomass is rich in carbohydrates which can be converted in to sugars. But the fermentation of these sugars is a difficult task owing to their chemical composition which is significantly different than that of normal land plants and very few organisms are able to do so. Sea6 Energy has partnered with Novozymes to research and produce enzymes to fasten up the seaweed carbohydrates to fermentable sugars conversion process.
The company has successfully developed a lab scale seaweed sugars fermentation process using normal yeast and with the use of minimal amount of fresh water resources. Sea6 Energy is also credited to have developed and patented off shore large scale seaweed production technology.
In addition to renewable energy the company is also focusing on developing other products from sea weeds for different sectors such as from sea weeds for food, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and agri business.
Commercial Product of Sea6 Energy: Jingo
Sea6 Energy has also set up a ‘Sea Weed to Plant Growth Nutrient’ manufacturing plant of 400,000 litres per annum capacity at Tuticorin, a port city of Tamil Nadu.
The first commercial product of the company is going to be sold by Mahindra Agri Business, a Mahindra Group company under the brand ‘Jingo’. The price of the product is said to be Rs. 650 for a 750 ml bottle. By helping the root systems to proliferate and increasing the leaf index area Jingo is able to stimulate the growth of a variety of crops including paddy, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, vegetables, tea and soyabean.
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