ARRA Research

ICCS (Research) -

Recovery Act: Re-Utilization of Industrial CO2 for Algae Production Using a Phase Change Material

Performer: Touchstone Research Laboratory Ltd.

Project No: FE0002546

Project Description

Touchstone will demonstrate a process for capturing and reusing CO2 generated from a small, industrial coal-powered source by using algae grown in an open pond system. This project will introduce a Phase Change Material (PCM) that will serve as a layer covering the pond surface. This covering will effectively regulate daily temperature fluctuations, reduce water losses from evaporation, and will help control the growth of invasive species. The PCM absorbs infrared solar radiation during the day as latent heat and releases it to the water at night when temperatures drop.

During Phase 1 of the project, researchers constructed a small, sub-scale laboratory demonstration pond to show that the use of a PCM to grow algae for CO2 capture from an industrial source is a viable application. This small, sub-scale site design was used to help forecast the performance requirements of the PCM and gas injection components needed for the Phase 2 system. Cedar Lane Farms (CLF) provides their site, existing infrastructure, and their emission source for the project. CLF is a commercial grower of plants for the retail garden center industry with two production plants located on a 13-acre parcel in Wooster, OH. CLF uses a 2.8 megawatt (MW) coal-fired combustor at one of its production plants.

During Phase 2, Touchstone constructed a half-acre open pond pilot system using PCM technology and emissions from the existing, adjacent, coal-fired source. Touchstone will operate the new system over a two-year period and will gather data (PCM performance, CO2 injection rates, water quality, algae growth, etc.) to substantiate future commercialization efforts. CFL will provide operational labor to Touchstone for the new system. The project will begin harvesting the algae and extracting lipids for conversion into biofuels utilizing an on-site processing unit designed and built by OpenAlgae, LLC. High-density inoculants of algae strains from Touchstone photobioreactors will be cultured in preparation for introduction to the test ponds. Pilot-scale process development and testing of an anaerobic digestion process to convert residual algae lipids to biofuels will be performed by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). The Phase 2 portion of the project was constructed and will be operated in accordance with the approved site plan.

Project Details