Thursday, November 03, 2011

CO2-devouring algae may lessen the carbon footprint of coal-fired power plants

Coal-burning power plants may yet be the energy of the future, thanks to a carbon-dioxide-devouring algae. The University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and East Kentucky Power Cooperative are partnering to further investigate the use of algae to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired plants and converting it to biomass, the university said in a release.

UK will place 135 interconnected tubes of algae (right) at the rural utility's Dale Station near Winchester to conduct a real-world test of the carbon dioxide reduction process. Officials hope to have 10 times as many tubes by early next year, Kelsey Sheridan of the Lexington Herald Leader reports. (H-L photo by Pablo Alcala)

The algae digest carbon dioxide and light in a process similar to photosynthesis in plants. (Read more) Once the algae has consumed the carbon dioxide, the by-product can be used to produce biodiesel, animal feed, fertilizer and chemicals. To view an explanatory video, click here.

The state agency committed nearly $1.3 million, the utility is contributing about $75,000 in in-kind and the university is providing $543,663. The research will be done by UK's Center for Applied Energy Research.

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