A. Irarrazaval, R. Macedo, F. De Caso
Carbon BioCapture LLC,
Keywords: Sustainability, carbon capture, microalgae, flue gas, cement, power plant
Summary:The use of microalgae cultivation systems has been proven under diverse environments around the world. Microalgae synthesize food directly from atmospheric CO2 and water using sunlight, are highly adaptive, and are found in all freshwater and saltwater environments. A system of microalgae cultivation in flat panel photobioreactors (PBRs) has demonstrated operational feasibility to transform flue gases from industrial processes into oxygen and biomass with high content of lipids, proteins for animal fees and/or biofuels. The PBR allows for an integrated biological system where native microalgae are cultivated inside PBRs of its own design. Optimized microalgae use a stream of combustion gases as nutrients from any fixed source of flue gas. This technology has been deployed successfully in extremely harsh environments. The PBR technology has been in operations since 2010 at AES Corporation, a coal-fired power plant in Ventanas, Chile, and since 2018 in Argos cement plant in Cartagena, Colombia. Also, starting in April 2023 at Argos’ cement plant in Newberry, Florida, United States. Results at all these projects have demonstrated the system’s high capability to capture significant amounts of CO2 and other flue gases. The Chilean plant has documented 95% CO2 capture effectiveness and over 97% of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 100% of sulfur oxides (SOx) from direct source of flue gas. Carbon BioCapture LLC (CBC), a small woman-owned business, successfully developed their proprietary cutting-edge photobioreactor technology that has been field validated as a point-source carbon capture microalgae technology with high effectiveness to capture CO2 and other GHG. CBC’s technology can contribute to objectives of reducing industrial emissions while generating oxygen into the atmosphere, and producing biomass with a high protein profile and high lipid content. CBC has 17 years of improved selection of native microalgae. CBC's team has experience designing, building, and operating two semi-industrial biorefineries fed with industrial emissions with a high content of CO2 (15%), SO2 (100 ppm), NOX (300 ppm), and other gases. The patented “Biomass Production System Technology” is established in two stages; 1) Selection of native microalgae taken from available local sources of wastewater from any given industry, and 2) Installation and operation of a system of multiple vertical flat panel photobioreactors with high efficiency CO2 (flue gases) transfer into the liquid phase. This helps improve the availability of nutrients, the distribution of heat, and maximizes irradiation affected by the chaotic characteristic of turbulent flows inside the panel. The combined effect of all these factors prevents the existence of "dead" zones, which would reduce the photosynthesis performance and prevent the aggregation and sedimentation of microalgae. Biomass obtained from CO2 capture during this multi-year, trial shows relevant positive characteristics that allow it to be used as feedstock to produce fertilizers, animal feed and biofuels.