The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) in Redcar has linked up with engineering giant Arup by growing algae which naturally draws in carbon dioxide, and using it to produce environmentally friendly products. The organisations have developed a system of using algae, which draws on the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by power stations and factories.
CPI is a technology innovation centre that uses market knowledge and technology understanding to develop and prototype products and processes quickly and efficiently with minimal risk to its public and private sector partners. The Government prospect to introduce carbon taxes to companies that produce large amount of Co2 prompted them to take keen interest in the development of cost effective carbon capture technology.
The scientist are trying to find out what volume of CO2 the process can fix, which algae works best, and how efficient it can become. According to project manager, Chris Gilbert from CPI, this is more effective than capturing Co2 using other methods and transporting it hundreds of miles away, but there is a lot of work to be done to prove that.
If successful, the system developed by CPI and Arup will allow the biomass from algae to be recycled and used to produce a large variety of products.
These could provide an additional source of revenue to offset carbon capping investment which includes bioethanol – which can be used as a motor fuel, biopharmaceuticals, the biofuel methane rich biogas – reducing dependence on fossil fuels, rich compost, a non-chemical soil conditioner for crop production etc.
Peter Head, Director and Global Head of Planning at Arup said: “The use of algae in this way could have a vast impact on the environment. It not only has the potential to reduce the carbon dioxide that power plants emit by 70 to 80 per cent – improving their carbon footprint. The algae could potentially provide an alternative source of fuel in itself, and through its by-products, a new revenue stream to support investment in carbon capture technologies.”
Dr Graham Hillier, Low Carbon Energy Director, at CPI said: “The roll-out will be a great challenge for the process development and construction industries. Government and business, working together, must show leadership, ownership and commitment to attract investment and build technological capability. We are planning a rapid research and development programme to move the concept from small-scale testing to larger scale demonstration. We are also looking at ways of integrating the processes into existing power supply and waste management systems.”