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Algae-Based Carbon-Capture – Research Efforts

August 17th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted in Algae-CO2-Capture

Sequestering carbon-dioxide by growing algae next to power plants has been happening for quite some time now. Research efforts are underway to make possible a economically viable model to capture CO2 from power plant emissions.

Some of the challenges faced are:

1.There are no comprehensive and authoritative estimates of cost of sequestering CO2 from power plants using algae. Some initial estimates question the economics of having algae sequestration of CO2, with current cultivation technologies and bioreactors.

2. Many power stations might not have the requisite area nearby. This would increase the capital costs for the pipes and the power used to move the gas through them by around twenty-fold.

3.High land costs near power plants

4.The current cost of producing algae for carbon sequestration in BC (British Columbia) is $793 per tonne of CO2. This cost is prohibitively high, about twenty times higher than the estimated cost of burying CO2 underground, and at least one order of magnitude higher than the cost of the fuel, indicating that at this point carbon capture using algae is not cost effective.

A few research efforts are underway to determine the most economically feasible method to grow algae near power plants .

Seambiotic– This company is based out of Israel and grows algae in open-ponds and capture the carbon-dioxide emissions from a power plant at Ashkelon , Israel. For more details about what this company is doing – refer my post in Oilgae Club

Another company worth mentioning is RWE energy which is a German electric power and natural gas public utility company based in Essen.They also work on the production of micro-algae using power plant flue gases to bind CO2. The micro-algae which they grow next to their power plants produce 60 to 100 t/
(ha x a) dry substance, with 120 to 200 t/(ha x a) of
CO2 being bound.

The growth rate of micro-algae is much higher and their system apparently can produce up to 6,000 kg algae (dry substance) per year. This binds 12,000 kg of CO2.

For all those who want to understand more about algae cultivation near power plants, this paper is a must -read – http://www.rwe.com/web/cms/mediablob/en/247480/data/235578/34391/rwe-power-ag/media-center/lignite/blob.pdf

More details about Carbon-dioxide sequestration from power plants can also be obtained from – http://www.oilgae.com/algae/cult/cos/pow/pow.html

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