Study Funded on How Algae Can Reduce Power Plant CO₂ Emissions

Seagriculture EU 2024
power plant

Yantao Li is leading a team of researchers to understand how microalgae can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Credit: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science/Cheryl Nemazie

R​esearchers from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) and the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) have been awarded a three-year, $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to better understand how microalgae can be used to reduce power plant CO₂ emissions.

With partners in academia and industry, the scientists are developing a technology that uses algae to capture the greenhouse gas emitted from power plants, wastewater treatment plants, and cement factories before it can enter the atmosphere. The outcome is intended to be a scalable and deployable system in which the algae sequester carbon from flue gases and then can be harvested for sale as nutraceuticals, animal feed, and biofuels.

“Our technology offers the opportunity to install a cost-effective green technology that captures carbon dioxide from flue gases while generating valuable bioproducts,” said research team leader Yantao Li. “It’s modular and scalable design allows a small installation to grow into a major carbon dioxide mitigation system, with its expansion paid for by the technology itself.”

Reducing greenhouse emissions on an industrial scale

The algal carbon sequestration technology being developed at IMET is the first of its kind to reduce greenhouse emissions on an industrial scale, according to the scientists. The team’s collaborative efforts were previously funded in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy for its work in using algae to capture CO₂.

“The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is pleased to receive this prestigious grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to work with partners in academia and industry to harness the power of algae to remove carbon dioxide from a power plant,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Peter Goodwin.

“The algal carbon sequestration technology being developed at IMET is the first of its kind to reduce greenhouse emissions on an industrial scale.”

The research program includes Yantao Li, Feng Chen, and Russell Hill from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Troy Hawkins from the Argonne National Laboratory; Robert Mroz from HY-TEK Bio, LLC; and Wen Zhang, of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology is a strategic alliance involving scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In the news…Historic World Agreement Reached to Protect Sea Life

United Nations member countries have finalized a text to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, calling it a “breakthrough” after nearly two decades of talks.   

The agreement reached by delegates of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, better known by its acronym BBNJ, is the culmination of UN-facilitated talks that began in 2004. It represents a global effort to counter the destructive trends facing ocean health, now and for generations to come. 

Already being referred to as the “High Seas Treaty,” the legal framework would place 30 percent of the world’s oceans into protected areas, put more money into marine conservation, and covers access to and use of marine genetic resources (MGRs, including deep-sea sponges, seaweeds, and bacteria, among other sea life, which are becoming increasingly useful in the development of advanced foods and materials).

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Seagriculture USA 2024
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