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OWING to ideal climate and mix of industry, the Eastern Cape has been handpicked for a unique pilot project using marine algae to convert the greenhouse gas of carbon dioxide into biofuels and other products.
The use of algae as one of the next generation sources of biofuel has not been without controversy, but research at Jacobs University using marine algae to capture, through photosynthesis, the carbon dioxide in flue gases at two major power stations is yielding great results.
A low-cost, custom-built 800m² photobioreactor housed in a closed, greenhouse- type setting, and set up at a German lignite coal-based powerplant has been converting carbon dioxide into biomass since August last year.
By the end of June, a 200m² photobioreactor capable of producing two tons of dry biomass a year – will be up and running at NMMU. This will be followed early next year by the creation of two 1000m² photobioreactors at sites adjacent to interested industrial partners, to evaluate the technology in industrial applications.
To keep costs down, the photobioreactors will be built locally, based on the original Phytolutions designs. The use of black economically empowered enterprises has been planned.
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