Innovation That Matters

| Photo source HyveGeo

Greener deserts: microalgae turns sand into soil

Agriculture & Energy

Could microalgae be a tool to transform degraded land into fertile soil?

Spotted: Climate change poses significant challenges to global food safety, with long-term changes in the weather already playing a part in the reliability and quality of crop yields. Now, however, startup HyveGeo aims to ‘green’ the desert to help boost food security – even in the hottest and driest conditions – with a circular microalgae biorefinery.  

Arid desert soil lacks the necessary water and organic matter for crop growth, but HyveGeo’s proprietary technology hopes to change this. Using non-arable land, sunlight, CO2, and wastewater, the company cultivates microalgae at scale to capture carbon from the atmosphere and create valuable agricultural products. 

The startup turns biomass (microalgae) into biochar that permanently locks away carbon, where it provides high-quality, verifiable carbon dioxide removal credits. The startup also produces other low-carbon agronomic products, including biofertilisers and biostimulants, which can be used to help revitalise barren land, transforming degraded land into fertile soil. HyveGeo further leverages advanced engineering design, data, and artificial intelligence (AI) to optimise the process. The company’s circular approach is highly scalable and well-suited for desert environments, including those in the Middle East.  

This year, HyveGeo is building its pilot project in the UAE with support from the government. From this, the startup aims to scale up microalgae cultivation, generate carbon dioxide removal credits, and ‘green’ hectares of desert land. The company’s vision involves commercialising its products and services through partnerships with public and private sector stakeholders. HyveGeo envisions significant opportunities for regional expansion within the Middle East and on a global scale in areas characterised by desert land.  

Microalgae are proving to be an effective tool in the battle against climate change. Springwise has spotted many innovations using the organisms, including in protein-producing roof panels and meat-free pork.

Written By: Anam Alam and Matilda Cox



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