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APS to Bury C02, Run Experimental Algae-biofuel Plants

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Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service, received a one-year aquifer protection permit March 25 from US EPA Region 9 and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to experimentally pump 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide (also known as carbon sequestration) into a deep-aquifer saline formation of groundwater 3500 feet below their Cholla coal-fired power plant at Joseph City in northern Arizona. Arizona does not differentiate between very deep aquifers that may be naturally saline or those closer to the surface that are normally a source of potable water.

APS has also experimented with capturing carbon to grow algae at their Redhawk natural gas power plant near the Palo Verde nuclear plant. The algae then produced biofuel which fueled company vehicles, however a planned large-scale demonstration of algae capture at the Four-Corners Power Plant by the Greenfuels Corporation was halted. The hope was that either biofuel for external use or some form of algae based fuel could actually power one of the Four-Corners boilers in lieu of burning some coal.

Fox said that APS will be using their own algae creation technology to capture carbon emissions, “Our first bioreactor has been operating for a few weeks and shows great promise to be a design that can be commercialized. In fact, we are building a small operation at the Redhawk plant to prove its scalability. That should be operational later this year.”

Fox said that the question of how long carbon capture of some sort could extend the life of the Cholla plant “is a very complicated question and the answer has a lot to do with the cost of carbon in a carbon-regulated program and the cost of sequestration versus other technologies, including algae. I will make the assumption that if CO2 can be successfully captured and managed (either geologic sequestration or algae or something else), there will be no reason to close the plants provide we are able to meet other environmental standards and I have little doubt that we can do that now and in the future”

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