Atmospheric Pollution and global climate change are hot debates for the past two decades. Protecting the earth's atmosphere by reducing green house emissions is a real challenge in a world that depends on fossils to meets its energy needs. At the same time, fossil reserves are depleting posing threat to future energy needs. Many scientific and industry circles believe that geological or ocean sequestration of carbon dioxide is the solution for GHG emissions. But carbon sequestration is a process that involves heavy investments and continuous energy input.
By sequestering carbon dioxide two oxygen atoms are irrecoverably stored with each carbon atom into geologic or ocean formations, In other words, out every 44 parts by weight of sequestered carbon dioxide, 32 parts by weight of oxygen is stored with 12 parts by weight of carbon in deep geological formations. Continuous sequestration of carbon dioxide from all large point sources will result in gradual reduction of the oxygen level of the atmosphere, which may negatively impact the existence of life on the planet. Furthermore, sequestration can only reduce new emissions, but does nothing to enhance the natural gas exchange process or improve atmospheric quality.
This is a junction in human history where algae, the tiny microscopic organisms, have a major role to play for the welfare of terrestrial life. Algae are present in abundance almost everywhere on earth. They are believed to be the first group of organisms on earth to perform photosynthesis. Sea and other water bodies are natural habitats of algae. They account for the major share of photosynthesis on earth. A considerable share of fossil fuel reserves have been formed by organic debris of algae over millions of years. At low levels of carbon emission, algae are capable of restoring atmospheric equilibrium through natural gas exchange between the living world and the nonliving world, by converting carbon dioxide into organic matter (biomass) and liberating oxygen- produced as a byproduct of photosynthesis- into the atmosphere. Large scale cultivation of algae consuming carbon dioxide from large point sources of emission can both reduce GHG emissions and also restore atmospheric quality by adding oxygen produced as byproduct of photosynthesis to the atmosphere.
Geological Sequestration vs. Biological Sequestration
Carbon is one of the fundamental building blocs of life. Growth of any form of life is essentially accumulation of organic material. As the organism dies, the complex organic material degenerates to simpler compounds of carbon like carbon oxides, methane etc. Photosynthetic forms of life recycle a part of these natural carbon emissions into organic material and liberate oxygen into the atmosphere while another part forms various carbon depositions like lime stones. This natural carbon cycle on the planet maintains the atmosphere and various ecosystems in equilibrium. Read more.
Carbon dioxide emission from large point sources alone is over 20 billion metric tons annually. Growing algae consuming 1 billion metric ton carbon dioxide emissions can produce 520 million metric ton biomass annually. At 35% oil yield, this will work out to approximately 185 million metric ton vegetable oil per year or 3 million barrels of refined biodiesel per day. It is noteworthy that the current annual carbon dioxide emission of 27 billion tons can produce 81 million bbl/day of refined oil, while current world crude oil production is only about 78million bbl/day. Thus algae can be the true alternative to fossil fuel. Since Carbon emission is everywhere proportionate to fossil usage, every part of the world can meet its energy needs locally, minimizing the use of fuel for transport fuel to various destinations.
Economic Security & Rural Employment
High oil price during 2008 has a major contribution in the current global financial crisis. Treasuries of large economies- that are dependant on imported oil-have historically been flowing into a handful of oil exporting countries, causing them turn around the mischievous trade deficit.
ATC offers a new equipment and technology that is highly adaptable to almost all geo-climatic regions. Since carbon dioxide emission is available everywhere, local fuel needs can be met by growing locally. The result is reduction in oil imports. The result is trade surplus and economic security.
Wide spread algae cultivation will generate numerous local employment opportunities and strengthen local communities.
Currently a considerable part of human consumable food is converted to animal feed and feedstock for biofuels in many parts of the world, while large populations starve elsewhere and while population explosion increases food demand every day. Algae biomass has high nutrient value even after oil extraction. It is already in use as animal fodder and fish feed. Using algae as economic biofuel feedstock and converting oil cake into fodder and fish feed will minimize conversion of human food to fodder and fish feed and thus contribute to food security.
Future Raw Material.
Depleting natural ecosystems will lead to a future scarcity of cellulose raw materials. Oil cake being rich in cellulose, the technology will open new doors to raw material research.