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Problems with Algae-based Carbon Capture 26

Hello all!

I am researching on the problems faced by companies implementing algae based carbon capture technology. Although there are several advantages with algae as a biological carbon sequestration agent, the real problem could be the technology behind the cultivation of algae for the same.

I want to understand the problems with implementation and scaling up of algae based carbon capture technology for carbon capture in power plants or other CO2 emitting industries.

I understand one major problem could be the availability of land near the industry. Please provide similar inputs which you think could be a problem for with the algae-based carbon capture technology.

Thank you!!
Mon May 10 2010 05:32:30 AM by Parkavi Algae-Carbon-Capture 5321 views

Comments - 23

  • Narsi wrote:
    Mon May 10 2010 06:33:29 AM

    Land might not be such a big issue if power plants are willing to locate their CO2 capture units far away from the plant and transport the CO2 using pipelines...the question then is, how much does it cost to install such a pipeline? Some preliminary estimates suggested in the order of $1 million per mile, but some more data and inputs on pipeline-based CO2 transfer will be useful...and that should not be hard to find, because in the US, there are thousands of miles of pipelines already transporting CO2 for EOR (enhanced oil recovery)

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  • Mahesh wrote:
    Mon May 10 2010 04:25:31 PM

    Why are we neglecting the roof tops and some plastic cover setups which will act as PBR's in algal growth and hence the best carbon capture!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Narsi wrote:
    Tue May 11 2010 04:10:21 AM

    And what about the strains? Which are the best strains to grow in flue gas?

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  • Narsi wrote:
    Tue May 11 2010 04:11:18 AM

    The other question has to do with FGD - flue gas desulfurization. Does the flue gas need FGD, or can the algae survive and even consume the SO2?

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  • Karthic wrote:
    Tue May 11 2010 03:35:53 PM

    There is no doubt that algae can sequester huge amounts of CO2. Reports say that 1 ton of biomass can be produced from 1.8 ton of CO2. But, I would think of two issues when it comes to CO2 sequestration by algae.
    1. Tolerance to gaseous impurities: Industrial effluent plant contains Nox and Sox that could be detrimental to some algae. But, there are some species such as Dunaliella teriolecta has been tested to withstand up to 1000 ppm of NOx emissions and was able to remove 96 % of it. Matsumoto et al.(1995) also showed that Tetraselmis spp. was able to withstand 185 ppm of SOx and 125 ppm of NOx. So, either the algal cells have to be adapted or a better strain has to be isolated.

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  • Karthic wrote:
    Tue May 11 2010 03:36:31 PM

    The second issue is related to Engineering the cultivation systems. Two major engineering issues exists. One is the light transfer of from the light source to each and every algal cells in the cultivation system used. And the second, is the CO2 transfer to each and every cell. Only, when light and CO2 will reach all cell surface, all the algal cells would be employed in biodiesel production. When both these issues are addressed the yield and productivity would increase.

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  • Parkavi wrote:
    Tue May 11 2010 03:54:41 PM

    Thanks for the useful insights!

    To me it looks like algae take up CO2 in the form of bicarbonates. This means that the supplied CO2 should be dissolved in the medium. How do we ensure all the CO2 supplied is dissolved? Any idea about the measures taken to increase the solubility of CO2 in the medium?

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  • Narsi wrote:
    Wed May 12 2010 05:37:43 AM

    @ karthic - your point on optimal light distribution and co2 distribution is correct. But I'm not sure if these are such significant challenges. To me, it appears that the large amount of land required right next to the co2 emitting plants/industries appears to be the only challenge that is "very difficult". For the rest, there a number of solutions coming up, and anyway, the two noted by you are predominantly engineering challenges, which, if history is any guide, will be taken care of soon enough

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  • Rumana wrote:
    Wed May 12 2010 05:41:51 AM

    @ Narsi - The one solution I can think of for the land requirements next to power plants is to transport the CO2 to a location where such land is available. You do add pipeline transport costs, though.

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  • Narsi wrote:
    Wed May 12 2010 05:48:41 AM

    @ Rumana - Yep, I agree on the transport of CO2 to another location where land is cheap and plenty...looks like the best solution - the other one could be where the power plant is located next to sea shore...cultivation in sea can be attempted??

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  • Karthic wrote:
    Wed May 12 2010 01:42:30 PM

    @Parkavi
    Gaseous carbondoxide when in water, for bicarbonate (HCO3-)and these two states tend to be in equilibrium until the balance is taken off. For example, algae will consumes bicarbonates and hence, more CO2 will be dissolved to maintain the equilibrium.
    Solubility of a gas at a particular temperature is a constant. But, you can increase the mass transfer coefficients. This could be achieved using different designs of a bioreactor. For example, if we are using continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR), you can use microspargers. Other bioreactor designs such as bubble column, packed bed have a higher mass transfer rates, but, it must be noted that each reactor has its own disadvantages that has to be considered before deciding on what reactor has to be used.

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  • Karthic wrote:
    Wed May 12 2010 01:50:11 PM

    @ Narsi Sir,
    I agree with you that land requirement is the major challenge, but, in countries such as USA and China where land is easily available, I don't see it as an issue. In India, obviously, it becomes a big issue.
    But, both of us would agree on a point that algal cultivation in open systems has some obvious disadvantages and the amount of land is one of the main disadvantages.

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  • Mahesh wrote:
    Fri May 14 2010 12:46:12 PM

    @ALLL

    Well, after reading all the comments above, i still stick to my statement, start cultivating algae on each and every roof top....... On all houses, buildings of a country..... The investment is least, zero labor and the CO2 sequester is maximum.... High end PBR's are not needed at all.... a small arrangement which can hold some water is enough, may be a polythene sheet cover...

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  • Mahesh wrote:
    Mon May 17 2010 05:23:51 AM

    Please make some comments on my views ......

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  • Karthic wrote:
    Mon May 17 2010 01:51:50 PM

    @ Mahesh
    Your idea is great, but, its practical applicability is questionable.
    First of all, investment is not exactly zero. The big question is how can public be motivated, and, what benefit will the people get from it? Huge knowledge will have to be disseminated to the public.
    You mentioned zero labor. Well, no one would work for free.
    I think government will have to play a huge role in motivating public.

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  • Mahesh wrote:
    Mon May 17 2010 04:11:15 PM

    How much will a plastic sheet cost? And once the algae is grown, it can be easily harvested by passing thru the filter cloth..... EX: Spirulina is such a high end product,there is lot of demand abroad, so export if grown in excess, but India itself is facing the worst problems of malnutrition...... So, let all start using it... If not for food, it can be used for feed and fertilizer..... Let some public org or govt buy the product..It creates lot of income and employment.....

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  • Mahesh wrote:
    Tue May 18 2010 03:55:21 PM

    some thing like the milk dairy system in India.

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  • Moeyssn wrote:
    Thu May 27 2010 03:13:57 AM

    @Mahesh
    Your system might face technical changes in civil engineering. those system are doable, but they often leak. odor is another problem too. I'm not also sure how economies of scale would work out if everybody is havesting his alge and tranesterificate it into biodiesel, once compared to plant based options

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  • Sun May 30 2010 07:09:41 AM

    Does anyone have any data on Co2 levels close to Cement and Electrical plants.

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  • DanielRaju wrote:
    Thu July 01 2010 05:14:01 AM

    Co2 levels near Cement & Power plants:

    In cement it is about 0.8 - 0.92 Ton/ton of cement produced. Where as for power 4.0 ton/ton of coal burnt.

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  • George wrote:
    Sun July 04 2010 01:29:13 PM

    Green vegetative roofs that prevent runoff up to a 1inch rain roofs are coming, using sedums (succulents)- 80 acres for instance in Chicago. Could the PBR been incorporated into solar hot water transfer of photovoltaic electricity?

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  • Divya wrote:
    Sat July 24 2010 08:07:50 PM

    @ Kartic: I agree with CO2 transfer being an issue but like you said microspargers in an airlift PBR would enhance solubility of CO2 in the algal nutrient medium.
    @ Mahesh: I'm curious about the gas solubility issue in the polythene sheet arrangement.

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  • Divya wrote:
    Sat July 24 2010 08:08:35 PM

    @ Narsi: Have you considered having a PBR at the point of CO2 production? CO2 from various processes can be collected and supplied to a PBR onsite. This would reduce earlier mentioned pipeline costs considerably.

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