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Innovation

Dallas’ Hypergiant Is in the Smithsonian for Battling Climate Change With Algae

The Eos Bioreactor uses AI and plant growth to pull carbon from the atmosphere 400 times faster than trees.
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Hypergiant's Eos Bioreactor uses artificial intelligence to maximize algae growth (Courtesy: Hypergiant)

Dallas-based AI software innovator Hypergiant developed a machine that is now featured in the Smithsonian’s FUTURES exhibit, displaying some of the world’s most impactful inventions. Called Eos Bioreactor, the device grows algae to pull carbon from the atmosphere at a rate 400 times more effective than trees.

The device uses artificial intelligence to concentrate oxygen levels and maximize growth within the bioreactor, where algae is grown at optimal levels. Algae thrives in carbon-rich environments, which it is often growing near industrial pipes and HVAC units. The device’s sensors measure light, temperature, and pH in order and can help algae remove from 60 to 90 percent of the carbon in the air. Most importantly, the device is small enough to fit into buildings, meaning it could be used to improve interior air quality and used on a large scale to fight climate change.

The FUTURES exhibit, which runs through July 2022, is 32,000 square feet of immersive art installations, interactives, experiments, inventions, and designs, or so-called “artifacts of the future.” There are 150 objects in the display, including a rover that could transform agriculture, a sail for deep space travel, and the world’s first controlled thermonuclear fusion device.

Mike Betzer (Courtesy: Hypergiant)

“We love the idea of hardware and leveraging the data to create a commercial product so that people could improve their environment and create more oxygen,” says Mike Betzer, Hypergiant’s CEO. “If that product is sitting in the Smithsonian, why isn’t that product in every house?”

Betzer says he could see the technology used in conjunction with another green technology: solar and wind power. Underneath all those panels and turbines, there is empty land where algae could be cultivated, multiplying the benefit to the climate without taking up more land. 

Though the company focuses on software, they aren’t afraid to create the hardware for a prototype when they have a new idea, such as the prototype for a new Air Force helmet they recently completed. When an idea is ready for mass production, Hypergiant will find a partner that has that capability. The Eos Bioreactor was built in the same way, with Hypergiant handling both the hard and software for the prototype. If it catches on, they will find a partner for expansion. 

While Hypergiant’s main lanes are providing artificial intelligence and software services for the Department of Defense and critical infrastructure projects in the supply chain and oil and gas industries, it is in the company’s DNA to develop products that make the world a better place in other areas as well. These ideas don’t always have clear revenue streams from the onset, but Betzer says it is as much a morale booster as it is a boon to the world. 

“We spend 25 percent of our time on crazy thinking. I’ve got dedicated people that wake up every day thinking about ethics, AI, and how to do things that would improve the world,” Betzer says. “Our employees stay with us because we are trying to do things not only that take care of their family and take care of the future.” 

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