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Novel algae-based solution for CO2 capture and biomass production


CO2 gas emission is a wide spread problem, since its greenhouse effect. Energy production is responsible for about 38 % of European CO2 gas emission. Decrease of CO2 emission became a very strong part of business, due to European Directives on emissions as well as on CO2 trading. Reduction of CO2 emission is one of the key points for sustainable energy production in long term, too.
One of the most widely studied solutions for the reduction of CO2 emission is its capture by green algae and production of valuable compounds, such as biomass or biodiesel. Green algae are relatively simple organisms, and able to convert inorganic substances (e.g. CO2, water) into organic substances through photosynthesis using light energy relatively fast. This process considerably reduces environmental negative impact of energy production as well as results in valuable by-products. On the other hand, current realizations are very limited and could not lead to break-through in the field. Commercial alga technologies use plantonic algae in water solution in Vertical Bioreactors (VB) or algae farms with large ponds. There are several disadvantages of these processes: lots of water is needed for the production, CO2 is bubbling through the liquid phase (large pressure drop, low efficiency), preparation of algae is not solved, harvesting is difficult, time consuming and inefficient, difficult scale-up, large foot print.
Opposed to the current methods, the proposed process is based on biofilm technology using Rotating Disk reactor system similar to the state of art rotating reactors used in biological industry elsewhere. In this system algae can be grown on indifferent biocompatible surface and thus CO2 would be captured either from the gas phase directly or from the liquid phase after bubbling.This method would dramatically increase the efficiency and decrease the amount of water necessary for the process. Automatic and continuous harvesting could be designed. Scale up is easy and the foot print would be much smaller than used currently.
As a result of a successful project we aim developing small size (small plants, biogas plants, etc.), automatic, biofilm reactor, with low operation and installation cost, capturing considerable amount of CO2 emitted, and resulting in organic products with sufficiently high yield.
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