Canadian Manufacturing

Researchers grow microalgae in factory chimneys, reduce CO2

Scientists reduce flue-gas emissions and identify several markets for biproducts



TAINAN, Taiwan—Researchers at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), in southern Tainan have used flue gas from factory chimneys to cultivate microalgae which can be made into a wide range of biofuels, health food and skin care products.

A team at NCKU Department of Chemical Engineering collaborated with China Steel Co. to establish a pilot system for microalgae cultivation from flue gas and to develop platform technology for microalgae biodiesel production.

What makes the study prominent is that the team has cultivated microalgae directly using high-temperature flue gas from chimneys at China Steel Co.

The microalgae endures high temperatures and allows for wet processing into biofuels. The team said these microalgae are the best working platform for CO2 reduction and reutilization.

According to Wen-Teng Wu, Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of NCKU Research Center for Energy Technology and Strategy, the cultivation of microalgae can help deal with the problems of the greenhouse effect and meet the urgent need of alternative energy.

Taiwan’s rich microalgae resources give it a great advantage in developing a microalgae industry, said Professor Jo-Shu Chang, adding that the industry can be very helpful in reducing carbon levels because algae captures carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.

Every gram of microalgae grown by the team consumes two grams of carbon dioxide, he said.

Chang said that microalgae biomass contains a variety of valuable components, such as oils, carbohydrates, proteins and pigments which can not only be converted to biofuels but also be used in the development of high value products, such as DHA/EPA, healthy foods, and livestock feed.

Aside from these applications, microalgae extract can promote cell restoration and cohesion, making it a perfect ingredient for skin care products.

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