Omega Global Initiative

SUMMARY: OMEGA, which began as a NASA biofuels research project to meet the demand for liquid fuel without using land, freshwater, or fertilizer, evolved into a broad-reaching plan for a “system of systems” to integrate algal biofuels production with water recycling, solar energy production, and compatible aquaculture, among many other components. This year the non-profit OGI was formed by one of the lead research scientists of the original Omega initiative to provide a detailed “roadmap” for the implementation of the Omega vision in coastal communities, transforming wastewater into a resource that produces algal biomass and potable water, expands local food production, increases the use of solar power, and supports local economies through jobs and new sources of revenue. OGI is currently seeking to establish small-scale demonstration projects in diverse locations to adapt and evolve the technology, with the primary goal to pave the way for large-scale future uptake.

PROBLEM SPACE: “Currently, human beings manage most of all land outside the ice sheets; we farm an area the size of South America, run livestock on land the size of Africa; yet now nearly one billion people are malnourished. With dams, water use, and climate change, we have radically altered the global hydrologic cycle and now almost 800 million people lack access to safe drinking water–estimated to reach four billion thirsty people by 2030. And what about energy? As for energy, we know the limits and liabilities of fossil fuels, but who knows how to replace it?

Globally, critical needs exist for increased food production, potable water, and sustainable energy that do no further damage to ecosystems. The OGI can help meet these needs, particularly for coastal cities, by supporting the deployment of OMEGA systems that: 1) expand offshore aquaculture, 2) transform wastewater into potable water, and 3) harvest solar energy in the form of photo-voltaic electricity, solar-thermal heat, and photosynthetic algal biomass to make biofuels. OMEGA will mitigate environmental wastewater problems, capture CO2, increase biodiversity, and prepare future generations for sea-level rise.

OMEGA will help meet some of the most formidable challenges of this century and OGI will launch OMEGA.”

SOLUTION: “The OGI was incorporated as a non-profit (501c3) in January 2015 with the mission to inform, inspire, and empower entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and governments worldwide to develop OMEGA systems. The OMEGA system was conceived by Dr. Jonathan Trent in 2008 as an integrated life-support system that produces energy, clean water, and food using “wastes”” as resources and under-utilized offshore spaces. Feasibility studies were funded with $10.8M from NASA and the California Energy Commission (CEC) between 2010 and 2013 (see: In these studies, microalgae were grown on municipal wastewater and waste CO2 in floating photobioreactors (PBRs) (see Wiley et al.: Energy budgets and techno-economic analyses indicated the system can be feasible if its infrastructure supports solar panels to power pumps and provides access to aquaculture for revenue. The problems of biofouling and impact on marine life were also studied (;

OMEGA is ready for its first offshore deployment and OGI is ready to make this happen.”

CONTACT: Jonathan Trent, [email protected]