Using algae to curb emissions

Looking back at the rest of my blogs on this site, I have realized that they are all quite depressing.  I would like to begin  discussing more optimistic topics in this blog, as although many environmental topics are rather dismal to think about, the solutions that our engineers and scientists are discovering to combat these issues are inspiring.  This week, I will discuss one encouraging idea that researchers are exploring, the idea of utilizing algae to cleanse carbon emissions.

If you’ve taken a course in biology, you probably know something about photosynthesis – the process that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.  What you may not know is that algae contributes 90% of global photosynthetic activity, making them the number one source for atmospheric oxygen.  After realizing the tremendous photosynthetic potential of algae, some researchers decided to try and use it to cleanse our emissions of carbon dioxide.

One company, called OriginOil, is attempting to make a coal plant in Australia carbon neutral by using algae.  The idea of the technology is to run the emissions from the plant through tanks of algae, which can store up to 60% of their dry weight in oil.  OriginOil wants to then extract the algae oil from the tanks of algae and repackage it as the ingredients for cattle feed.

This innovative technology is also being applied in many other interesting ways.  For example, a building in Germany will be constructed of algae containing movable walls to generate heat, shade, and energy.  Since algae reproduce at a faster rate when they are exposed to sunlight, during a sunny day, they naturally provide more shade.  The algae is harvested by the building, generating the 10% of the building’s power.

Since I discussed a green building in this post, my green tip of the week is to make your house as green as you can.  Bringing green plants into your house will not only beautify it, but will also diminish your carbon footprint.  If possible, also try to plant one or two trees on your property.  Thanks for reading again, and have a great week!

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1 Response to Using algae to curb emissions

  1. Kathleen Forichon says:

    I love this idea, especially because excess algae can be bad for other inhabitants of water environments. It’s a great idea because it kills two birds with one stone.

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