HY-TEK Bio LLC arose in 2008 from an attempt by Bob Mroz to help a friend realize a dream.
Bob, a gifted electrical and software engineer with a 30-year career at the Federal Communications Commission, was already successful in private enterprise as well. While he was still with the FCC and, with the aid of two partners, Bob started a company to
develop software that would track elite athletes’ performances in Olympic-
level swimming and track & field events. After 27 years on the market and
continued development with the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado
Springs, the software had a Customer base of over 59,000 users in 36
countries, and its use was mandated at every sanctioned swim and track &
field meet in the world. Bob sold that Division of HY-TEK Ltd to a San Diego-based company in 2008.
At this point, Bob had some spare time and examined the possibility
of helping his friend, an ultralight enthusiast, become the first person
to fly an ultralight aircraft on biofuel. Soon after, another pilot in New
Jersey became the first to fly an ultralight on biofuel, but Bob became
intrigued by the unique properties of algae not as a biofuel source, but as a means to consume large amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions – a natural algal function.
Bob, with the help of his ultralight pilot friend Jack French, designed and built a small algae bioreactor and asked the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES) for advice. When the University placed an order for six more bioreactors, Bob realized the vast market potential of algae, and he and Jack submitted a patent application for the technology.
He continued his cutting edge research in cooperation with the University, eventually receiving his first $100,000 grant from the state of Maryland under its Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) Program. With that first $100,000 MIPS grant, UMCES isolated a single strain of algae for HY-TEK Bio from among the hundreds of thousands of strains known worldwide. The strain, now called HY-TEK Bio Strain #1, or HTB-1, has numerous unique properties and is a critical component in successfully mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from any source of fuel, including coal, oil, natural gas, methane, and biomass. So as HY-TEK Bio’s mitigation technology evolved, Bob clearly saw the market benefits to utilizing algae to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions: Its high-lipid content makes it a perfect source for pharmaceutical and nutriceutical products, food additives, cosmetic and paint thickeners, bioplastics and biofuels. A further benefit of the photosynthetic-based technology is that high quality oxygen is also generated by the mitigation process. Bob, in collaboration with the HY-TEK Bio executive team and the UMCES staff, continuously implemented improvements to the mitigation and algal growth process as well as to the several spin-off technologies. More grants followed from the MIPS Program, and HY-TEK Bio started its demonstration-scale project at Baltimore’s Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant in late 2011. At Back River, HY-TEK Bio has been capturing flue gas output and mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions from a 3MW methane-fired power plant. With the support of numerous partners and sponsors, HY-TEK Bio is now an emerging global leader in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and generating oxygen and high value by-products from algae.
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