The legendary Jacques Cousteau taught him about oceanography at the U.S. Naval Academy more than 40 years ago. Now, professor Mark Edwards of the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness at Arizona State University (ASU) would surely be making his late mentor proud with a new “top science book of the year” award for his work on how algae can revolutionize food and fuel.

“Algae is very nutritious, delicious, sustainable and affordable,” said Edwards, whose book Green Algae Strategy: End Oil Imports and Engineer Sustainable Food and Fuels recently received an Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards Gold Medal.

“You can process algae into flour so it tastes great, and then use it for just about anything you would make out of soybeans, corn, wheat, or any other grain,” Edwards said.

“You can also grow algae on very large water-based farms about 30 times faster than you can grow land-based crops, and you can harvest about half of the new growth daily. The result is double the protein value of land crops that would take an entire season to produce.”

Instead of using freshwater, fossil fuels, and pesticides, Edwards says algae can grow using renewable sunshine, carbon dioxide, and wastewater or reclaimed water. This saves money, natural resources, and farmland which makes algae an appealing sustainable source for food.

The book summarizes algae research around the world, including an ASU project on converting algae into fuel.

“Oil from algae can be used to fuel diesel engines, cars, or jet planes,” Edwards said. “When oil is pressed out of algae, the remaining material can be used for animal feed and food products.”

Judges chose the book from more than 4,300 entries.