Every year cement production contributes about 5% of the global emissions generated by humans. Any improvement around cement production will have a good impact on lowering carbon entering our atmosphere. In Sweden there’s one company using algae to lower its emissions. The country has carbon emission rates that are likely increasing in the next few years, which has inspired the cement company to figure out how to avoid paying more for producing the same amount of cement. Their solution: pumping the carbon output from their cement factory onto algae which then inhales all that delicious carbon, once the algae dies it becomes food.
It’s elegant: Take water from the Baltic Sea’s Kalmar Strait next to the plant, pump it about 100 meters (330 feet, about the length of a soccer field) into bags that can hold about 3,000 liters (800 gallons) of liquid. Add key nutrients to multiply the naturally occurring algae, and then let them soak in the gases piped to it from the cement plant (what would otherwise be the factory’s waste product) while the sun shines.
What’s more is the algae are rich in proteins and fats. After drying, they can be used as an additive for chicken- and fish-food. Heidelberg is in talks to sell the algae additives to major agricultural companies like Cargill. At its current size, the Algoland system in Degerhamn can only produce about a few kilograms of algae a day. But the plant has all it needs to scale up to make many metric tons of algae daily—light, water, fresh algae, and lots of space—and thus capture many metric tons of carbon dioxide in the process.
The science underlying Algoland is not novel, but what is new is how well it integrates the many parts entailed into an economically feasible carbon-capture plant. The used-up limestone quarry can provide the space; a greenhouse built on it ensures the right temperature and light is available even when the sun’s not shining; and the Baltic Sea is a source for both water and fresh algae.
Industrial fishing is killing life in the oceans at an alarming rate, so much so that the loss of life undersea is contributing to climate change. In fact, one tiny thing many people can do to fight climate change is to simply cut fish out of their diet. One company, New Wave Foods, in California is hoping to help people cut out shrimp from their diet by having them eat “shrimp”.
The “shrimp” they are making is actually plant-based so it can be grown even on land. Using red algae to make simulated shrimp is good for the environment and good for the shrimp under the sea.
M: How do you make shrimp from plants?
D: We use all plant-based ingredients to mimic the taste, texture, color, and nutritional profile of shrimp. We use soy for protein and red algae for flavor. Red algae are what shrimp eat in the wild, so they contribute to the flavor profile. We’re creating food out of food and using science to bring ingredients together.
M: How close are you to a finished product and wide distribution?
D: We are really close to a final product, and we’re collaborating with a number of food experts. We’ve created the perfect shrimp in the lab, but now we have to scale it for greater production. We are going to market first with popcorn shrimp. It’s pretty perfect, and popcorn shrimp is about one-third of the shrimp market. It looks really familiar to people. Our goal is to launch this product in six to 12 months. We’ll do a soft launch in California first. We’re also working on a cocktail shrimp.
Algae is amazing and as we find more ways to use the powerful, small, creatures we’ll improve our carbon footprints. Already algae is used to clean sewage, clean landfills, and so much more.
This week at the Milan Expo EcoLogics Studio revealed their algae canopy for urban centres. The canopy provides shade while cleaning the air in a very efficient way!
Created by EcoLogics Studio and demonstrated in Milan, Italy, this “world’s first bio-digital canopy integrates micro-algal cultures and real time digital cultivation protocols on a unique architectural system,” with flows of water and energy regulated by weather patterns and visitor usage. Sun increases photosynthesis, for example, causing the structure to generate organic shade in realtime. In addition to CO2 reduction, the canopy as a whole can produce over 300 pounds of biomass daily, all through a relatively passive system that requires far less space and upkeep than conventional civic greenery.
I’m looking forward to the start of Formula E next month, and it’s exciting to hear that the racing league has signed on with Aquafuel to power their cars with algae. Formula E is the all-electric alternative to the popular Formula 1 racing league. Algae will be used to power the mobile generators that will charge batteries used during the race.
Formula E’s sustainability manger Julia Pallé told BusinessGreen the championship organisers have signed a deal with UK start-up Aquafuel to supply generators powered by glycerine, a byproduct of biodiesel that can also be produced from salt-water algae. The fuel is biodegradable, non-toxic and can be used in modified diesel generators to produce power.
“It’s a very innovative compound,” Pallé said at an event at Donington Park yesterday to unveil some of the new technologies being used by Formula E. “It comes from algae so it’s a first generation compound and it uses glycerine so it has no CO2 emissions, no smoke, no noise, no smell. It’s something that isn’t harmful at all. It’s super-efficient and we’re really happy to be working with [Aquafuel] on that.”
Read more here.
Here’s McLaren showing their Formula E car:
This short news report covers some cool new plastic production from bacteria and algae done by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.