Algae devour carbon dioxide

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Carbon dioxide, often criticized, however, can become a useful resource. Indeed, different strategies used to exploit the CO2 produced by fossil fuels are to the study.
Thus, the laboratory Brindisi ENEL Ricerca is in the process of studying the possibility of using carbon dioxide to accelerate the development of micro-algae which absorbs in the chlorophyll photosynthesis. These microalgae same can then be used to extract valuable chemical compounds or to obtain fuel.
Gennaro De Michele, the project manager, explains: "In our laboratory, we are experimenting with the possibility of realizing microalgae cultures in enriched growth environments, with a carbon dioxide level equal to that present in the smokes of factories ". It would therefore be possible to feed the ponds or grow the plants directly with the discharges from the plants. "We are currently working with the alga Phaeodactylum tricornutum, which has
very interesting properties. This vegetal indeed extract several polyunsaturated fatty acids precious for our organism, belonging to the family of Omega 3. In addition, it would be possible to extract biodiesel from this algae. "
The idea to use the carbon dioxide to useful microalgae culture is also followed in other countries of the world: the United States for example, microalgae cultures enriched in carbon dioxide environment already exist , and such applications are also presented in Brazil and India.
"We are still in an experimental phase - explains De Michele. However, today in the laboratory, in the presence of high concentrations of carbon dioxide, our microalgae grow up to 3 times faster. "
However, this approach is not an overall solution to the carbon dioxide problem. Michele explains: "This is an extremely complex challenge, in which we must act with different parameters: firstly, the efficiency of the installations, the use of renewable energies and finally the storage and use of carbon dioxide.
This last route is very interesting and can lead to the obtaining of precious chemical compounds, such as polycarbonates, for example; to produce renewable energy in the form of biomass; or to produce rocks in which the carbon dioxide would be permanently fixed. Micro-algae cultivation is one such route, but even if used for biodiesel production, it would absorb only a small portion of the overall production of CO2. "

source: The sun 24 hours, 11 / 11 / 2004


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