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Portland General Electric – Algae Turns CO2 Gases into Fuel, Livestock Feed

September 26th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted in Algae-CO2-Capture, Algae-Cultivation

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This is a press release courtesy of Portland General Electric (PGE)

A cutting-edge experiment now underway at the Boardman Power Plant in Morrow County, Ore., could help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired electric generating stations nationwide.

Portland General Electric (PGE) and Columbia Energy Partners (CEP) are testing whether algae grown at the 600-megawatt Boardman power plant can turn carbon dioxide and other emissions into biofuels and livestock feed.

The process involves capturing CO2 and feeding it to algae, which are being grown adjacent to the plant. During photosynthesis, the algae ingest CO2 and release oxygen into the air, retaining oil and other byproducts. The oil is “squeezed” out of the algae and used to produce clean-burning biodiesel. The remaining biomass is used to produce ethanol and proteins for livestock feed.

PGE is among the first utilities to investigate using algae to reduce CO2 and other emissions. This small-scale study will investigate the effectiveness and commercial viability of a large-scale algae carbon-capture project.

“PGE is working on several fronts to reduce emissions at the Boardman plant, which is an important part of our mix of energy resources,” said Jaisen Mody, generation projects director. “We already have proposed an aggressive plan to cut haze-causing emissions by more than 76 percent, and mercury emissions by 90 percent. We are excited to be working with Columbia Energy Partners to explore options for reducing the plant’s carbon footprint as well.”

Chris Crowley, president of Columbia Energy Partners, said, “Columbia Energy Partners is committed to building Oregon’s renewable energy economy with innovative projects like this one, in addition to our traditional wind and solar projects.

“This cutting-edge effort with PGE to reduce carbon dioxide emissions while producing sustainable feedstock for biofuels will reduce our dependence on foreign oil while capturing greenhouse gas emissions, benefiting both the economy and the environment,” Crowley said.

In the current exploratory phase, PGE and Columbia Energy Partners hope to learn which of the available naturally occurring algae strains are best suited to capture and consume CO2. Scientists working at the plant will study how each algae strain lives and reproduces, how fast it grows, how resistant it is to temperature and how much CO2 it consumes. The results will determine if further analysis in a larger second phase is warranted.

“Pursuing promising technologies and strategies is one way PGE seeks to meet growing demand, while protecting the environment and keeping prices reasonable for our customers,” Mody said.

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