Overview

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    Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae (OMEGA) is an innovative method to grow algae, clean wastewater, capture carbon dioxide and to ultimately produce biofuel without competing with agriculture for water, fertilizer or land.

    NASA’s OMEGA system consists of large flexible plastic tubes, called photobioreactors. Floating in seawater, the photobioreactors contain freshwater algae growing in wastewater. These algae are among the fastest growing plants on Earth.

    The algae use energy from the sun, carbon dioxide and nutrients from the wastewater to produce biomass that can be converted into biofuels as well as other useful products such as fertilizer and animal food. The algae clean the wastewater by removing nutrients that otherwise would contribute to marine deadzone formation.

    NASA’s project goals are to investigate the technical feasibility of a unique floating algae cultivation system and prepare the way for commercial applications. Research by scientists and engineers has demonstrated that OMEGA is an effective way to grow microalgae and treat wastewater on a small scale.

    The OMEGA system is being investigated by NASA as an alternative way to produce aviation fuels. Potential implications of replacing fossil fuels include reducing the release of green house gases, decreasing ocean acidification, and enhancing national security.


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