In addition to established uses of CO2, many novel uses are under development or early demonstration, including algae culture, production of bio-plastics, the carbonation and reuse of mineral wastes, and the production of liquid fuels. With Valorisation Carbone Québec, CO2 Solutions has launched a major initiative to stimulate the value-added reuse of CO2 on a vast scale.
With this new initiative, CO2 Solutions aims to promote and demonstrate the commercial viability of capturing and recycling the carbon dioxide in the polluting emissions from industrial sources and converting it for innovative applications. Their technology is in fact flexible enough to integrate profitably into a multitude of applications, making it an ideal front-end solution to provide the lowest possible cost CO2 required by these new processes, including the ones outlined here. The doors are wide open for future widespread deployment of this sustainable technology.
Algae culture is not in itself new - using algae as a source of food, feed and energy goes back more than half a century. More specifically, algae culture today can include algae production for making products ranging from nutraceuticals to biodiesel. In fact, growing global demand for transportation fuels combined with concerns about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions has spawned an interest in algae-based biofuels.
Advances in biotechnology, such as the ability to genetically engineer algae to produce more oils and convert solar energy more efficiently, have unleashed new possibilities not feasible only a few years ago. Algae are cultivated on land in large ponds, or in enclosed photo bioreactors, using CO2 as a feedstock to accelerate and increase yields.
The CO2 can come from flue gases from power and steam plants, and thus can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall when the algal biomass is converted into biofuels.1 CO2 Solutions is exploring the application of its enzyme-based carbon-capture technology and CO2 requirements in the algae industry which would have double positive impact in the fight against climate change.
1 allaboutalgae.com, produced and hosted by the Algae Biomass Organization.
The term ‘bio-plastics’ designates two types of materials: bio-sourced plastics and biodegradable plastics. The first are produced using organic biomass (waste from renewable resources – plants, animals, algae, etc.), while the second degrade with the help of bacteria and other microorganisms.
Currently the only option for replacing plastics made from fossil fuels, the production of plastic using plant-based oil generates significantly less CO2, but still faces production challenges. Among them are the costs, the use of alimentary resources for non-alimentary purposes, overexploitation of natural resources (deforestation, soil depletion, fresh water use, fertilizer/pesticide use, etc.), its weak fusion point (tendency to melt in the heat) and the fossil fuel energy use necessary for the composting process.
Despite these challenges, this application represents potential avenues for reducing greenhouse gases, starting with a focus on non-alimentary second-generation biomass (wood, agricultural, forestry, sugar cane waste, straw, municipal waste, etc.) that makes up 70% of the Earth’s biomass, and third-generation biomass (aboveground microorganisms – microalgae, bacteria, yeast). Using CO2 Solutions’ capture and reuse technology in this context could contribute to making the production of bio-plastics cleaner and more profitable.1
The production of combustible liquids (gas, fuel oil, methanol, ethanol, biodiesel, etc.) by combining CO2 with hydrogen is another avenue where CO2 Solutions may successfully make their mark. Ecological, benign and easy to install and utilize, the company’s carbon-capture and reuse technology has the potential to reduce production costs in this area as well as the health risks associated with the methods currently used. These various combustible liquids production processes will be demonstrated and verified as part of the Valorisation Carbone Québec initiative.