Arnout van Diem

CEO Algae Food & Fuel

The workspace of Arnout van Diem evokes associations with science fiction movies. Large plastic tanks emit a spooky purple light and glass cylinders are filled with a bubbling green algae soup. Indeed, Algae Food & Fuel, the company Van Diem co-founded together with Taco Neeb, is preparing for the future. The company develops machines to breed algae that can be used in health products, food products like meat alternatives, cattle-fodder, or as raw material for oil and air fuel.

The machines Algae Food & Fuel produces are fully automatic. The smaller ones are sold to research labs, but the company aims to sell its machines in particular to farmers who are interested in raising their production per hectare. According to Van Diem, one hectare of land yields 7 tons of wheat a year. Filled with his algae breeders the same field can produce up to 600 tons of algae per annum. There is one catch, though. The energy consumption of the machines is still very high, making their breeders profitable only for the production of the more expensive algae for health purposes only. Together with seven employees, Van Diem and Neeb are busy working to reduce the energy use of the installations.

Previously, Van Diem, who was trained as an ingenious geologist at TU Delft, worked for engineering company IGN before founding his own company BioSoil in 1993 for biological soil remediation. In 2004, Van Diem was a finalist for Dutch Entrepreneur of the Year and the next year he received a Japan 100 Ecotech Award. He is also a recipient of a European Environmental Press Award (2007) and was added to Senter Novem’s Hall of Fame (2008).

Nature, Food, Technology, Netherlands PINC.16