The ALGIX story started in 1994 when Mike Van Drunen, ALGIX co-founder, started EPSI, a company in the business of automated liquid filling equipment. EPSI introduced to the world the first high speed automated aseptic filling line. This technology allowed packagers to convert from expensive, heavy glass containers, to the cheaper, lighter plastic container. The glass to plastic revolution has started and EPSI quickly grew into one of the premier packaging companies in the industry. And since the packaging sector is the largest market for plastics, this set the course for the massive plastic waste problem we have today.
By 2008, Mr. Van Drunen was on the look out for the a feedstock that could be used to help brand owners introduce more sustainable products to the market and put a stop to the ever growing problem of filling up land fills, lakes and oceans with plastic garbage.
In 2009, Mr. Van Drunen’s wife Lisa saw an article placed by the University of Georgia (UGA) looking for help in an algae research project. Mr. Van Drunen had specific experience in cell lysing that UGA was interested in. Mr. Ryan Hunt was the researcher that Mike was assigned to work with and the relationship between Mike and Ryan had begun which led to the founding of ALGIX in August of 2010.
Meanwhile, in 2006, co-founder, Ryan Hunt, began researching the production of algae biomass as an alternative fuel source while an undergraduate physics student at the University of Georgia. In 2007, Mr. Hunt, and co-contributors, initiated the first algae research program at the University of Georgia’s Bioengineering department. Over the course of 4 years, Mr. Hunt’s small graduate student project blossomed into a multi-million dollar research effort within the Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program focusing on renewable biofuels and bioproducts from algae biomass.
After two years of intensive research, the team demonstrated the transesterification of algal oils from algae grown on carpet industry wastewater into biodiesel. However, it became clear that the high growth rates of algae were mutually exclusive with high oil contents in the harvested biomass. This meant that it would be challenging to grow algae for wastewater treatment and produce biofuels at the same time. Thus, we began to investigate alternative uses of the algae biomass.