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Startup says the seaweed blobbing toward Florida has a silver lining


A brown macroalgae native to the Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea is increasingly a menace to coastal ecosystems and communities across the Gulf of Mexico, ever since mats of the normally beneficial seaweed (known as sargassum) exploded in numbers in 2011. This is the backdrop for Carbonwave, which recently raised $5 million to put the hulking algae blooms to good use.
Researchers say farm and sewage runoff is likely driving the now 5,000-mile-wide “Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.” Climate change may also be playing a role.
There’s no need to run screaming from sargassum, despite the tone of some stories covering the Florida-bound blooms. Still, they pose a threat to coral reefs and tourism-dependent livelihoods alike. When the stuff piles up on beaches, it rots, emitting skunky hydrogen sulfide. 
The recent sargassum surges are forcing folks to find creative ways to get rid of it, and already, possible applications run the gamut. Researchers and entrepreneurs aim to turn it into syrup, bricks and even jet fuel. As for Carbonwave, the Boston- and Puerto Rico–based startup is using it in fertilizer, cosmetics and even faux leather.
Backed by ESG-themed investment firms Natixis and Viridios Capital, as well as ocean-focused VC Katapult, Carbonwave says the new cash will help it scale production …

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