by Dr. V. A. Selvi
Dr. V. A. Selvi, a senior principal scientist with the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR-CIMFR) in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, India, has developed a process for growing a heavily filamentous algae to capture CO₂, recycle coal mine water, and produce a material that is both fireproof and biodegradable.
Dr. Selvi used a “novel fibrous matrix photo-bioreactor” designed for algal culture and CO₂ capture in an enriched, eco-friendly, rapid process. She enriched the algal media with iron, manganese, vitamins, and surfactants to encourage higher photosynthetic efficiency. The photo-bioreactor was customized by creating a built-in organic fibrous matrix that supports the filamentous growth of the algae rapidly, and for easy harvesting.
Additionally, the design incorporated an impellor for mixing the enriched media, as well as a sparger with activated carbon to add bubbles. The bubble size of 0.5-10 mm facilitates the efficient mass transfer of CO₂ into liquids and reduces the time it takes to divide the gas in the liquid.
The filamentous algae are harvested and used to create fabric. The algae-based fabrics are bio-fiber and eco-friendly, renewable and 100% bio-degradable. Interestingly, the fabric also releases antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients to the skin. The fabric can be used for blending with other renewable material such as cotton, linen, silk, jute, and wool in different proportions to make more innovative textile material with fireproof qualities.
Dr. Selvi considers the process a big win for reducing green-house gasses by capturing carbon in the algae, reusing mine-waste, and creating a usable product.
Ms. Selvi has spent 17 years working in algae for CO₂ capture in energy industries and value-added products extraction such as food, fuel, fertilizer, and fabrics.
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