Developing sustainable biotechnology for a cleaner future

Mara turns carbon into renewable oils, with the help of algae

Mara develops proprietary technologies for the production of sustainable, low-cost renewable oils from microorganisms, for nutrition and fuel applications.

About us

Mara Renewables Corporation is a research and development company focusing on algae fermentation. Mara’s scientists in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, have characterized a microorganism known as T18, and continue to optimize and demonstrate its viability at commercial scale.

A Mara scientist works with fermenting algae.

Our Objectives


To produce low-cost, sustainable lipids for nutrition and renewable energy industries.


To confirm the large-scale economic viability of a fermentation facility for production of a renewable (lipid-based) oils derived from the heterotrophic organism T18.


To demonstrate cost reduction and sustainability through organism optimization, applied process engineering, cycle-time reduction, and nutrient cost reduction.


Mara aims to produce and market renewable oils for nutrition and fuel applications.

We have discovered and optimized a strain of algae from the Atlantic Ocean to convert carbon into renewable oils.

Our oceanic organism
is making waves

Mara’s leadership and technology in the news

A Mara scientist monitors the fermentation system.

Experienced entrepreneurs and world-class scientists

Meet the people behind Mara

John Risley
Chair and Founding Shareholder

John Risley is president and CEO of internationally operating, diversified holding company Clearwater Fine Foods Incorporated. He is a co-founder, and currently serves as director, of Columbus Communications and of Clearwater Seafoods Inc. Mr. Risley was the founder and a director of Ocean Nutrition Canada, a Nova Scotia life sciences company, purchased in 2012 by Royal DSM, the world’s leading provider of Omega-3 fatty acids. Mr. Risley serves on the boards of charitable organizations as chair of the Canadian Youth Business Foundation and co-chair of the capital campaign for the Nature Conservancy.

A graduate of Harvard University’s President’s Program in Leadership, he regularly engages in public policy debate, is chairman of the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies, a member of the World President’s Organization and the Chief Executives Organization, and a director of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. He was named an officer of the Order of Canada and was inducted into the Nova Scotia Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 1997. He has received numerous awards, including Atlantic Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year.

Tim Haig, P.Eng, MBA
President and CEO

Tim is a serial entrepreneur in the Cleantech, Renewable Fuels and Chemical industries.

Currently, Tim is CEO of Mara Renewables Corporation. Also is Co-Founder and CEO of FORGE Hydrocarbons Corp. Both Mara and FORGE are second generation renewable fuels and renewable chemical companies. Also a Director of OneRoof Solar (TSX.V ON.V)

Prior to these venture Tim was a founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of BIOX Corporation (TSX BX), a renewable energy company, from 2000 to 2011, also served as a Director of BIOX Corporation from 2000 to 2012.

Prior to co-founding BIOX Corporation, Tim held several senior management positions with high profile organizations both in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Tim also served in the Canadian Forces (Army) for 11 years as an officer.

He received his Master of Business Administration in London, England and his degree as an Industrial Engineer from the Royal Military College of Canada.

Dr. Roberto Armenta, BEng, MSc, PhD
Chief Scientist, Director of Research and Development

Dr. Armenta leads the most advanced R&D program to produce heterotrophic microalgae oil in Canada, including work on genetics, fermentation optimization and biomass processing.

His research focuses on critical issues including yield coefficients, strain development, cost-efficient nutrient feedstocks, contamination control, oil extraction and process scale-up.

Roberto has extensive experience in biological processes to produce both microbial high-value products and commodities, including carotenoids, nutritional oils and biofuels. He directed the R&D at Ocean Nutrition Canada to produce nutritional lipids from microalgae. He conducted graduate research at Loughborough University in England, University of Concepcion in Chile, Superior Institute of Technology in Portugal, and the National Research Council of Canada.

Dr. Armenta has a B.Eng. in biotechnological engineering (Technological Institute of Sonora), a M.Sc. in biotechnology and a Ph.D. in biological sciences (Autonomous Metropolitan University, Mexico).

Roberto is also an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University’s Department of Processing Engineering and Applied Sciences in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Research and Development team

The internationally recognized R&D department of Mara is unique in Atlantic Canada and consists of nearly 20 researchers, many with doctoral-level qualifications. Along with the leadership team, they’re a catalyst for the creation of a sustainable Atlantic Canadian industry sector.

Airplanes and ships, for the foreseeable future, continue to require liquid fuel.

Where we came from, Where we’re going

The founding and future of Mara

Since 2006 our scientists have been painstakingly optimizing technologies for algal-oil production. What began as an investigation into production of Omega-3 fatty oils (for Ocean Nutrition Canada) led to the discovery and refinement of a proprietary strain of algae dubbed T18. Soon, a bigger goal emerged. The extraordinarily high quantities of lipids created from fermentation of T18 algae could be used as feedstock for the creation of petroleum products used in jet fuel and diesel fuel for trucks.

The scale of global energy and liquid fuel consumption is immense. More than 1.2 billion vehicles are on the world’s roads today, with 98 percent powered by blends of gasoline or diesel. The global consumption of gasoline is estimated at 21.8 billion barrels or 2,594 billion litres per day. The aviation industry alone uses about 5.2 million barrels or 619 million litres per day. Future mobility will likely make use of a mosaic of fuel options — gasoline, diesel, biofuels, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, gas-to-liquids, hydrogen, and electricity in adapted engines and drivetrains. However, certain modes of transport such as airplanes, ships, and certain military hardware will, for the foreseeable future, continue to require liquid fuel, due to its high energy density. Aviation, unlike ground transportation, is totally dependent on liquid fuels.

Mara’s key technology and competitive advantage is thraustochytrid T18. T18 produces 80 percent triacylglycerol (TAG) by dry weight, and cell biomass well in excess of 15% solids. It is a leading microorganism candidate for sustainable biofuels production, and in particular the production of liquid transportation fuel from cellulosic and fermentation co-product sources derived from grain ethanol production. As a heterotrophic organism, T18 is capable of semi-continuous production in a fermentation bioreactor, which has a small footprint, and is particularly suitable for northern climates (since it does not require light) and for incorporation into existing fuel refineries.

Since 2010, our scientists have been focusing on optimization and cost-reduction of T18. In 2013, Mara Renewables Corporation was founded to fulfill the promise of these technologies beyond the research and development phase.

are you a talented scientist?

We are hiring a Level 2 Fermentation/Microbiology Scientist

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