August 28, 2014
Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture (HDOA) Agribusiness Development Corp. (ADC) gave the funds to the Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (DKI-PBARC) conversion program, which takes unmarketable papaya and other low-value agriculture waste and produces biofuel and high-protein animal feed, according to a news release.
Hilo-based DKI-PBARC and Gainesville, Fla.-based BioTork LLC have invested more than $1 million to develop the economically sustainable zero-waste conversion project. The conversion process takes less than 14 days to cycle in a heterotrophic environment, meaning no sunlight is needed. The process uses an organically optimized algae/fungi developed and patented by BioTork.
The ADC will become a venture partner to globally export the conversion technology.
The state’s $1.6 million is in addition to its initial $200,000 investment that will help DKI-PBARC move the project to demonstration scale before commercial production. “Our investment promotes further use of agricultural crops to provide clean energy and leads us on a more definitive path towards food sustainability,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “We need to focus on projects like this as Hawaii emerges as a global leader for biofuel and feed research and development.”
The state is hoping for long-term revenue as a partner with the technology. At full scale the project should employ more than 1,000.