A US Department of Energy project that aims to use captured CO2 from flue gas to produce algal biofuels is moving to its next phase.
The project at Touchstone Research Laboratory in West Virginia will use algae in four ponds to photosynthesize CO2 captured from a small, coal-fired combustor.
As the algae grows, thanks to the CO2, it will produce oils – or lipids – which can be harvested and used to produce biofuels.
The trial will use innovative ‘phase-change materials’ to cover the algal ponds. The material absorbs sunlight during the day and releases it at night to maintain a constant temperature, while also minimising evaporation and preventing other species getting into the ponds.
The algae ponds should produce around 2000 gallons of oil each year, which will be upgraded to biofuel. In addition, the Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research Development Center will test an anaerobic digestion process to convert the residual algae biomass to methane.
Touchstone, which is working with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, GZA GeoEnvironmental and OpenAlgae, will run the trial for 14 months to gather data for future commercial efforts.
For further information:
US Administration makes new investment in biofuel industry (4-Jul)
US boosts biomass R&D with £50 million in funding (11-Apr)
17 August 2012