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Carbon Capture the Algae alternative PDF Print E-mail
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A few days ago, a deal between South African company De Beers Fuel Limited and Massachusetts-based Green Fuel Technologies Corporation to install and operate Green Fuel's Emissions- to-Biofuels™ algae bioreactor systems that could produce 16 to 24 billion liters of biodiesel from algae.

The most intriguing aspect of this technology is its ability to use CO2 emissions from power plants to feed the algae, thereby capturing CO2 and creating a feedstock for biodiesel at the same time. In a Press Release on De Beer's Infiniti Biodiesel Website, company Chairman Frik DeBeer claims “When algae are introduced to a rich carbon source, such as the flue gas emissions of a power plant, they propagate exponentially compared to traditional agricultural crops and do not compete for land or water that might otherwise be used for food production.”

Also in a press release , this time from the Institute of Science in Society, Dr. Mae-Wan Ho calls green algae for carbon capture and biodiesel a "sustainable option overlooked." What's more, it appears that using algae as a feedstock for biofuels is far more efficient than other sources.

De Beers claims it can produce 92,000 liters of fuel from one acre of algae, compared with a mere 350 liters produced from a more typical sunflower seed farm. Meanwhile, another company, GreenShift Corporation's subsidiary Veridium is working on similar technology based on blue-green algae discovered thriving in a hot stream in Yellowstone National Park.

These technologies appear to be far less expensive and easy to implement than carbon sequestration, so what's the catch? Why aren't more people talking about this? For one, this isn't really the equivalent of carbon sequestration, since the CO2 will ultimately be released when the biodiesel is burned. It basically means we get to release the CO2 twice – one from the power plant, where it's captured and fed to the algae, then again from the tailpipes of vehicles burning biodiesel made from the algae.

So this is really CO2 "parking" rather than CO2 "capture" With the efficiency of new engines there will be a benefit as the exhaust gases are reduced significantly.

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