Algae-based tech to capture CO2 for use in products gets $8M from DOE

June 27, 2021 |

In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management awarded $8 million in federal funding for four projects to develop and test algae-based technologies that capture and utilize carbon dioxide from power systems or other industrial sources to create valuable products and services, biomass and bi-products.

Using algae, the selected projects will develop conversion technologies to decrease emissions, helping to reach the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

FECM and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the following four projects:

  • Carbon Capture and Utilization for Protein and Fatty Acids — Global Algae Innovations (San Diego, California) will develop a technology suite to lower production costs, making algae products competitive in commodity food, chemical, polymer and animal feed markets that are commensurate with utility- and industrial-scale application.
    DOE Funding: $2,000,000; Non-DOE Funding: $500,000; Total Value: $2,500,000
  • Engineering-Scale Validation of Novel Algae CO2 Capture and Bioproducts Technology — Helios-NRG, LLC (Amherst, New York) plans to develop a novel algae technology to capture CO2 from carbon-based power plants and convert it to valuable products that generate revenue.
    DOE Funding: $1,999,228; Non-DOE Funding: $499,802; Total Value: $2,499,030
  • Continuous Algae-based Carbon Capture and Utilization (CACCU) to Transform Economics and Environmental Impacts — Texas A&M AgriLife Research (College Station, Texas) aims to integrate cutting-edge sorbent-based CO2 capture and algae-based technologies to produce value-added products and algal biomass from flue gas at ultra-high yield and low costs. The project features (1) a synthetic biology design that triggers algal cells auto-sedimentation with high solid load, which allows continuous cultivation by periodic auto-cell removal/harvesting to maintain optimal growth rate and low energy cost; (2) a high-capacity, low-cost and energy-efficient sorbent that allows CO2 storage at night and controlled release during daytime cultures; and (3) hydrogel-based phosphate, ammonia and bicarbonate controlled delivery, which will greatly enhance algae productivity, reduce CO2 loss and media cost and mitigate the need for high alkaline-based CO2 storage, enabling the utilization of a rapidly growing strain. Moreover, Texas A&M AgriLife Research will use machine learning, process control and techno-economic analysis (TEA) and life cycle analysis (LCA) models to evaluate and optimize carbon capture and utilization efficiency, costs and scale-up feasibility for producing biomass and byproducts from flue gas.
    DOE Funding: $2,000,000; Non-DOE Funding: $507,202; Total Value: $2,507,202
  • Improving the Cost-Effectiveness of Algal CO2 Utilization by Synergistic Integration with Power Plant and Wastewater Treatment Operations — University of Illinois (Champaign, Illinois) plans to demonstrate an engineering-scale open raceway pond algae cultivation system, including the integration of technologies that utilize carbon-based power plant CO2 and wastewater nutrient inputs, as well as decrease CO2 emissions and cost.
    DOE Funding: $1,997,436; Non-DOE Funding: $501,660; Total Value: $2,499,096

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