Dr. Yantao Li with a microalgae sample. (Credit: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science/Cheryl Nemazie)
The US Department of Energy recently awarded a three-year, $2 million research grant to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) to examine the effects of microalgae on power plant carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, specifically pertaining to the emissions can be reduced.
“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our society today and IMET is thrilled to be contributing to solutions to carbon dioxide emissions through our microalgal research program,” said Dr. Russell Hill, who is a professor and executive director at IMET.
Through collaboration between industry and academia, researchers are designing technology that can use algae for capturing CO2 that powerplants, cement factories, and water treatment plants emit before the CO2 goes into the Earth’s atmosphere. The researchers hope the final product will be small and mobile enough to capture the CO2 and the algae can also be used for a variety of purposes, including animal feed, nutraceuticals, and biofuels.
“Our technology offers the opportunity to install a cost-effective green technology that captures carbon dioxide from flue gases while generating valuable bioproducts,” said Dr. Yantao Li, who is an associate professor and research at IMET. “Its modular and scalable design allows a small installation to grow into a major carbon dioxide mitigation system with its expansion paid for by the technology itself.”
This new technology, known as algae carbon sequestration technology, is being hailed as the “first of its kind to reduce greenhouse emissions on an industrial scale” while also using algae for the aforementioned purposes, as well.
“The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is pleased to receive this prestigious grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to work with partners in academia and industry to harness the power of algae to remove carbon dioxide from a power plant,” said Dr. Peter Goodwin, who is a University of Maryland professor and president of UMCES. “Addressing the challenges of climate change is UMCES' priority, and innovations like these are a game changer for Maryland and the nation to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.”
Can microalgae help decrease carbon dioxide emissions going forward? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!