Tag Archives: bioenergy

“Algae forestry” could take CO2 straight out of the air and put it on your plate

Through a mixture of algae, eucalyptus, carbon storage and bioenergy, researchers believe they have found the recipe to simultaneously provide food in many parts of the world while taking out CO2 from the atmosphere.

As the world struggles to keep global warming at manageable levels, scientists are exploring several avenues to reduce emissions. Researchers from Cornell University, Duke University, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo have an idea that could prove extremely effective: they devised a system that can act as a carbon dioxide sink while also generating food and electricity.

They integrated algae production with carbon capture, in a system they call ABECCS (algae bioenergy carbon capture and storage). Researchers have already set up a 7,000-acre ABECCS facility that can yield as much protein as soybeans produced on the same land footprint, while simultaneously generating 17 million kilowatt hours of electricity and sequestering 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. A portion of the captured COis used for growing algae and the remainder is sequestered. Biomass combustion supplies CO2, heat, and electricity, thus increasing the range of sites suitable for algae cultivation.

“Algae may be the key to unlocking an important negative-emissions technology to combat climate change,” said Charles Greene, Cornell professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and a co-author of new research published in Earth’s Future, by the American Geophysical Union.

“Combining two technologies — bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, and microalgae production — may seem like an odd couple, but it could provide enough scientific synergy to help solve world hunger and at the same time reduce the level of greenhouse gases that are changing our climate system,” Greene said.

Often times, when an idea sounds too good to be true, it is. In this case, the entire project hinges on the economic viability of the algae. Researchers describe two scenarios in which financial viability is achieved:

  • when algal biomass can be sold for $1,400/t (as fishmeal replacement), with a $68/t carbon credit; and
  • algal biomass sold for $600/t (soymeal replacement) with a $278/t carbon credit.

Clearly, the price of algal biomass is essential, but an economy that supports carbon credits is also required.

There’s another issue with this type of project: In the ABECCS system, soy cropland is replaced by eucalyptus forests used for carbon storage that provides marine algae with CO2, heat, and electricity. While this can work extremely well on a small scale, on a large scale, the arable land and freshwater requirements for ABECCS could be unviable and cause competition with food production.

ABECCS won’t solve all our climate change woes, but it could be a significant puzzle piece.

Journal Reference: Colin M. Beal, Ian Archibald, Mark E. Huntley, Charles H. Greene, Zackary I. Johnson. Integrating Algae with Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (ABECCS) Increases Sustainability. Earth’s Future, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/2017EF000704

Indo-UK Joint Research Projects for Bioenergy and Water Dynamics

Hyderabad (South India): Developing alternative but sustainable energy resources to save scarce fossil resources and understanding the dynamics of changing water cycles to improve ecosystems in South Asia.

These are the broad areas agreement for green-field collaborative research entered into by India and the UK shaving an investment of 14.7 million British Pounds.

The latest initiatives, just announced recently in New Delhi, are expected to further boost the bilateral ties between the two nations.

The bioenergy project envisages inventing energy products from plants and algae alternative to fossil fuels, with a funding of 10 million BP. The research is expected to help both the countries.

The UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Indian Government’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have agreed to jointly fund the research for sustainable bioenergy.

“ It will support collaborative science which aims to solve shared problems in the production and processing of plants and algae for bioenergy, research that could help both nations develop sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels,” according to UK Universities and Science Minister David Willetts who was here recently in India.

On the other hand, the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences (MOES) will jointly fund £4.7 million for research into the pattern of changing water cycles in South Asia.

In this connection, Prof. Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and Rob Lynes, British Council’s Director in India, on behalf of UKIERI, signed a statement of intent to work together towards a new PhD partnering initiative between the UK and India.

The five UK-India projects funded under this programme range from understanding the dynamics of groundwater systems, improved irrigation water management, rainfall patterns and how they affect ecosystems.

The Indian arm of the Research Council UK (RCUK) which is the umbrella organization of seven prestigious science research organization of Britain, since inception in the year 2008, had facilitated joint research collaboration between the UK, India and third parties to the tune of  over £80 million compared with £1 million in 2008.

RCUK India is now actively involved in significant co-funded activities with seven different Indian research funders, working together on a wide array of research themes helping to address global challenges such as energy and climate change to social sciences, healthcare and life sciences.

The UK Research Councils (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Each year the Research Councils invest around £3 billion in research covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines from the medical and biological sciences to astronomy, physics, chemistry and engineering, social sciences, economics, environmental sciences and the arts and humanities.

The seven councils are: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).//EOM//