"Algae may be the key to unlocking an important negative-emissions technology to combat climate change," said Charles Greene [cornell.edu], Cornell professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and a co-author of new research reported in Earth's Future [wiley.com] [open, DOI: 10.1002/2017EF000704] [DX [doi.org]], published March 24 by the American Geophysical Union.
"Combining two technologies – BECCS and microalgae production – may seem like an odd couple, but it could provide enough scientific synergy to help solve world hunger and at the same time reduce the level of greenhouse gases that are changing our climate system," Greene said. Based on an idea first conceptualized by co-author Ian Archibald of Cinglas Ltd., Chester, England, the scientists call the new integrated system ABECCS, or algae bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.
The ABECCS system can act as a carbon dioxide sink while also generating food and electricity. For example, a 7,000-acre ABECCS facility can yield as much protein as soybeans produced on the same land footprint, while simultaneously generating 17 million kilowatt hours of electricity and sequestering 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
The ABECCS system's economic viability depends on the value of the nutritional products being produced and the price of carbon. Even without a price on carbon, microalgae production – in a fish-farming, aquacultural sense – is commercially viable today if the algae are priced as a fishmeal replacement in aquafeeds.