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Carbon Sequestration by Aquatic Microalgae

in IndiaA State of the Art Review


R. Saravanane1*, T. Sundararajan2 and N. Madhivanan3
1,2Professor,

Environmental Engineering Lab, Department of Civil Engineering,


Pondicherry Engineering College, Pondicherry14, India
3Junior Research Fellow (JRF), Environmental Engineering Lab, Department of Civil
Engineering, Pondicherry Engineering College, Pondicherry14, India
E-mail: *vanan.madhi4@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
Carbon dioxide sequestration by aquatic micro algae appears to be the most promising,
environmental friendly and cost effective means of reducing carbon dioxide emission in
the energy sector. Carbon sequesteringcapturing and storing carbon emitted from the
global energy system by such photo-bioreactors could be a major tool for reducing
atmospheric CO2 emissions. Such carbon sequestration technologies could be ideally
incorporated and best applied in connection with large-scale energy conversion plants
such as coal power plants and oil refineries. Carbon sequestration offers the possibility
for new industrial applications such as the production of hydrogen, together with
electricity, from fossil fuels. This paper provides a state of he art review on this subject.
Keywords: Carbondioxde, Microalgae, Bubbling Reactor, Photo Bio-reactor

INTRODUCTION
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two
oxygen atoms each covalently double bonded to a single atom. It is a gas at
standard temperature and pressure and exists in the earths atmosphere in this
state, as a trace gas at a concentration of 0.039 per cent by volume. As part of
the carbon cycle, plants, algae and cyanobacteria use light energy to
photosynthesize carbohydrate from carbon dioxide and water, with oxygen
produced as a waste product. Carbon dioxide produced by combustion of coal
or hydrocarbons. CO2 is also found in lakes, at depth under the sea and
commingled with oil and gas deposits.
The environmental effects of carbon dioxide are of significance interest.
Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas, absorbing heat radiation from
Earths surface which otherwise would have left the atmosphere. Burning of
carbon-based fuels since the industrial evolution has rapidly increased
concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide increasing the rate of global
warming and causing anthropogenic climate change. CO2 emissions are
expected to increase at an annual rate of 3%. The potential effects of global
warming on India vary from the submergence of low lying islands and coastal
lands to the melting of glaciers in the Indian Himalayas, threatening the
volumetric flow rate many of important rivers of India and south Asia.
Records show that 0.6 C increase in global average temperature over the
past century mainly due to increase in atmospheric CO2. The best scientific

Carbon Sequestration by Aquatic Microalgae in IndiaA State of the Art Review 321

estimate is that global mean temperature will increase between 1.4 and 5.8 C
over the next century as a result of increase in atmospheric CO2 and other GHG.
This type of phenomena cause the increase in global temperature would cause
significant rise in average sea level. Without substantive changes in global
patterns of fossil fuel consumption and deforestation, warming trends are
likely to continue for environmental safe aspects.
Carbon sequesteringcapturing and storing carbon emitted from the global
energy system could be a major tool for reducing atmospheric CO2 emissions.
Carbon sequestration technologies could be incorporated and best applied in
connection with large-scale energy conversion plants such as coal power plants
and oil refineries. Carbon sequestration offers the possibility for new industrial
applications such as the production of hydrogen, together with electricity, from
fossil fuels.
Photosynthesis has long been recognized as a means, at least theory, to
capture anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis is the original process
that created the fixed carbon present in todays fossil fuels. Aquatic microalgae
are among the fastest growing photosynthetic organisms, having carbon
fixation rates an order of magnitude higher than those of land plants.
Microalgae utilize CO2 as one of their main building blocks and we propose that
algal photosynthesis may be viable option for anthropogenic CO2 capture and
sequestration. While microalgal culturing is expensive, microalgae can also
produce a variety of high value compounds that can be used to generate
revenues. Those revenues could pay for the cost of carbon capture and
sequestration. Microalgal photosynthesis can also result in the precipitation of
calcium carbonate, a potentially long term sink of carbon. The advantages of
using a microalgal-based system are that:
High purity CO2 gas in not required for algal culture. Flue gas containing
varying amounts of CO2 can be fed directly to the microalgal culture. This will
simplify CO2 separation from flue gas significantly.
Some combustion products such as NOx or SOx can be effectively used as
nutrients for microalgae. This could simplify flue gas scrubbing for the
combustion system.
Microalgae culturing may yield high value commercial products. Sale of
these high value products can offset the capital and the operation costs of
the process.
The envisioned process is a renewable cycle with minimal negative impacts
on environment.
In this study we have used bubbling reactor and photobioreactor for the
growth of microalgae, CO2 can be effectively fixed by microalgae and the final
product used for commercial purposes. Fig 1. in materials and methods shows
you the experimental setup used for the study.

322 Green India: Strategic Knowledge for Combating Climate Change: Prospects & Challenges

MATERIALS AND METHODS


A small experimental setup (Fig. 1.) could be viable solution to study the effect
of CO2 sequestration.
Thermal Power
plant

Pre-Treatment
of flue gas

Co2
Algal Pond

Fig. 1: Sequestration of CO2

Aquaculture systems involving microalgae production and wastewater


treatment (e.g., of amino acids, enzymes or food industries wastewaters)
seems to be quite promising for microalgae growth combined with biological
cleaning. This allows nutrition of microalgae by using organic compounds
(nitrogen and phosphorous) available in some manufactures wastewater, not
containing heavy metals and radioisotopes. Additionally, microalgae can
mitigate the effects of effluent and industrial sources of nitrogenous waste
as those originating from treatment of fish aquaculture and at the same
time contributing to biodiversity. Moreover, removing nitrogen and carbon
from water, microalgae can help reduce the eutrophication in the
aquatic environment.
Mode of cultivation of algae:
Algae can be cultivated in two ways:

Open pond system.

Closed photo bioreactors.

A comparison of open and closed large scale culture system for micro algae.
Culture System for Algae
Contamination control
Contamination risk
Sterility
Process control
Species control
Mixing
Operating regime
Area/ Volume ratio
Population density
Investment
Operation costs
Capital/ operating costs
Low utilization efficiency
Temperature control
Productivity
Water losses
Evaporation on growth medium
Gas transfer control
CO2 losses

Closed System (PBRs)


Easy
Reduced
Easy
Easy
Easy
Uniform
Batch/ Semi-continuous
High (20.200/m)
High
High
High
High
High
More uniform temperature
3-5 times more
Depend upon cooling design
Low
High
Depend on pH, alakalinity etc

Open Systems (Ponds)


Difficult
High
None
Difficult
None
Very poor
Batch/ Semi-continuous
Low (5-10/m)
Low
Poor
Low
Low
Poor
Difficult
Low
Equal
High
Low
Same.

Carbon Sequestration by Aquatic Microalgae in IndiaA State of the Art Review 323

There are different types of photo bioreactors available in the market:

Vertical tubular photo bioreactor.

Flat panel photo bioreactor.

Horizontal tubular photo bioreactor.

Helical type photo bioreactor.

Stirred tank photo bioreactor.

Hybrid type photo bioreactor.

CONCLUSIONS
CO2 sequestration is very essential to prevent earth from global warming.
As CO2 plays a major role in green house effect. We must take care of increasing
atmospheric CO2 level. The most economic way of reducing CO2 is by Biological
method by using Microalgae. The suitable method of growing microalgae is
discussd above. Microalgae not only plays vital role in CO2 reduction it also
used as alternative source for fuel. Microalgae on further processing used
as Biodiesel.
Algae Biomass to Biodiesel
Biodiesel is a mixture of mono alkyl esters of long chain fatty acids (FAME)
derived from a renewable lipid feedstock such as algal oil. After the extraction
process, the resulting product algal oil can be converted into biodiesel through
a process called trans esterification. Trans-esterfication is a chemical reaction
between triglycerides and alcohol in the presence of a catalyst to mono-esters
that are termed as biodiesel.
Algal biodiesel has several advantages over petroleum diesel in that:
It is derived from biomass and therefore is renewable, biodegradable
and quasi-carbon neutral under sustainable production.
It is non-toxic and contains reduced levels of particulates, carbon
monoxide, soot, hydrocarbons and SOx.

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