Scripps and SoCalGas system to use algae to capture carbon dioxide

Jul 31, 2012 By Mario Aguilera
A new system will explore using algae to capture carbon.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego (Scripps) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) have entered into an agreement focusing on the design of an innovative system in which algae consume carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from natural gas combustion and cost-effectively convert it into valuable byproducts such as biomethane, biodiesel and animal feed.

For several years, researchers at Scripps, a member organization of the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology, and a number of commercial companies around San Diego and elsewhere, have been studying how algae can most efficiently be developed into a clean, renewable to one day replace non-renewable . Taking this research a step further, Scripps’ researchers hope to leverage algae’s natural ability to absorb CO2 in the environment and convert it into oil rich biomass or biomethane or refined into fossil fuel replacements. After extracting the oils for , the remaining biomass can be sold as a safe, protein-rich .

The new collaboration between Scripps and SoCalGas includes an investigative research and systems engineering study to explore how algae production systems currently in development could most effectively capture industrial CO2 emissions. Targeted CO2 sources include: natural gas power plants, large engines used in natural gas compression and water pumping and boilers used to produce steam for industrial processes such as enhanced oil recovery.

“We are very excited to enter into this collaboration with Southern California Gas Company and bring our world-class scientific and engineering analysis capabilities to bear in assessing state-of-the-art algal culture systems for CO2 capture from point sources,” said Dominick Mendola, a senior development engineer in the laboratory of Greg Mitchell, a Scripps research biologist who is exploring marine for their potential as a new biofuel source. “If the Phase I analysis proves such systems can be safe and economical, we then hope to enter into a Phase II agreement to help SoCalGas build and operate a module of a commercially scaled system, and test its capabilities at a site to be selected within Southern California.”

“We are strongly committed to supporting the development of zero and near-zero- emission natural gas technologies. Recovering CO2 from combustion and turning it into a valuable commodity such as biomethane, biodiesel or a high-quality animal feedstock is great for the environment while creating valuable products,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas. “None of this is easy, but working with world-class scientific organizations like Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC San Diego greatly improves our chances of success.”

Explore further: Minorities aren't well represented in environmental groups, study says

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Algae biofuels: the wave of the future

Apr 03, 2012

Researchers at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech have assembled the draft genome of a marine algae sequence to aid scientists across the US in a project that aims to discover the best algae species for producing ...

German power plant testing CO2-scrubbing algae

Jul 22, 2010

Swedish energy group Vattenfall said it had launched a major pilot project Thursday using algae to absorb greenhouse gas emissions from a coal-fired power plant in eastern Germany.

Brazil to build first algae-based biofuel plant

Jul 19, 2012

The world's first industrial plant producing biofuels from seaweed will be built in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco in late 2013, the official in charge of the project said Thursday.

Low-cost process produces natural gas from algae

May 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new method for converting algae into renewable natural gas for use in pipelines and power generation has been transferred from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to the marketplace ...

NASA showcases method to grow algae-based biofuels

Apr 18, 2012

NASA recently showcased the latest research and technology development a method to grow algae, clean wastewater, capture carbon dioxide and ultimately produce feedstock for refining biofuels without competing ...

Recommended for you

Underwater elephants

9 hours ago

In the high-tech world of science, researchers sometimes need to get back to basics. UC Santa Barbara's Douglas McCauley did just that to study the impacts of the bumphead parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum) on cor ...

Malaysia air quality 'unhealthy' as haze obscures skies

15 hours ago

Air quality around Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur and on Borneo island was "unhealthy" on Tuesday, with one town reaching "very unhealthy" levels as haze—mostly from forest fires in Indonesia—obscured skies.

User comments : 0