Algae can help further alleviate CO2 emissions, finds study

A new study reveals that carbon emissions associated with the manufacture of ethanol can produce algae which can be used to produce biofuel. Corn is the first thing that comes into mind for biofuel. But, in fact, algae is another viable alternative from the manufacture of ethanol if it can be mass produced.

Biologically, algae are a group of aquatic organisms that can undergo photosynthesis. Pond scum, seaweed, and giant kelp are some examples of algae. Collectively, algae have the potential to generate 10 to 100 times more fuel for each acre of land compared to other crops, but requires large quantity of CO2 and water.

With the limited availability of these sources in many regions of the U.S., it makes it difficult to sustain production. However, the Midwest of the country that has abundance of high purity CO2 due to ethanol production from corn is area where algae production has the scope to flourish.

During the process, fermentation of corn produces CO2 besides ethanol. In a recent publication, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory detailed the challenges and opportunities associated with using this CO2 to cultivate algae in the Midwest.

The work finally displays the potential to cultivate algae in the Midwest and at the same time alleviate emissions from ethanol production. The Midwest is a region to consider for the production of ethanol for agriculturists seeking to commercialize carbon capture of algae and utilization technologies.

Importantly, the team of researchers demonstrate that Midwest conditions can support growth of algae and that production can be maintained through the year by using other materials such as wood residue to produce fuel in lean season of algae growth.