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ABO Visits the University of Kentucky/Duke Energy Algae Demonstration Site

A couple of weeks ago ABO’s executive director Matt Carr was able to visit an innovative carbon utilization project in Boone County, Kentucky. The University of Kentucky/Duke Energy Algae Demonstration Site is comprised of several photobioreactors growing algae with the CO2 taken directly from a coal powered generation plant operated by Duke.

Staff from Duke Energy and researchers from the University of Kentucky were on had to describe the operations, as was Congressman Thomas Massie, representing Kentucky’s 4th District.

Rep. Massie (with water bottle) examines freshly harvested algae biomass from the UKY East Bend pilot. Jack Groppo of UKY's Center for Advanced Energy Research (left) explains the harvest process.

Rep. Massie (with water bottle) examines freshly harvested algae biomass from the UKY East Bend pilot. Jack Groppo of UKY’s Center for Advanced Energy Research (left) explains the harvest process.

The tour included a close-up inspection of photobioreactors at the site that convert the CO2 in flue gas to algal biomass, via photosynthesis. The biomass is then periodically harvested to supply feedstock for upgrading into value-added products. The low energy harvesting system recycles water and unused nutrients.

The University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research (UK CAER) is an interdisciplinary research center focused on the energy needs of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Michael Wilson of CAER explains how the algae photobioreactors work.

Michael Wilson of CAER explains how the algae photobioreactors work.

Demonstrations like this are proving how algae cultivation can be used to mitigate CO2 emissions at a profit, rather than the costs associated with other technologies.

As the need for carbon utilization technologies grows, collaborative projects such as this one will be more important than ever.

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