Researchers at the University of Melbourne School of Engineering have discovered a new method for delivering much needed pure CO2 to algae with lower costs, boosting the potential for creating biodiesel and other algae biomass products.
CO2 for algae is like spinach for Popeye — a daily dose does a lot to improve growth rates.
Abundant flue gasses from power generation and industrial processes are the best place to source the CO2 because it is being released in a much more concentrated form than the CO2 found in the rest of the atmosphere and using those gasses would mitigate a huge source of climate change.
But there’s a catch. Flue gases often contain other chemicals that are costly to remove. If the algae consume the unpurified form of CO2, they can perish. Popeye would not do well with contaminated greens!
That’s where Professor Sandra Kentish, Head of the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Melbourne and Ph.D. Student Qi Zheng come in.
In their new method, CO2 is absorbed into a liquid and delivered via extremely thin, log straws called hollow fiber membranes, that penetrate the algae beds. Feeding CO2 to algae in this way is not only cheaper, it also increases growth rates.
Read more about their findings here.