UK CAER Receives $1.2 Million to Support Algae-Based Carbon Utilization Project
By Dave Melanson
The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy Research’s (CAER) Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis Group has received a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant for their novel work in utilizing carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants to develop bioplastics.
The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected seven projects to receive $5.9 million to focus on novel ways to utilize carbon dioxide. All of the selected research projects will directly support FE’s Carbon Storage program’s Carbon Use and Reuse research and development portfolio. This portfolio will develop and test novel approaches that convert carbon dioxide captured from coal-fired power plants to useable products. The projects will also explore ways to use captured carbon dioxide in areas where high-volume uses, like enhanced oil recovery, may not be optimal or the use could partially offset the cost of carbon capture technologies.
The UK project is led by Mark Crocker, CAER associate director and chemistry professor, and is entitled “CO2 to Bioplastics: Beneficial Re-Use of Carbon Emissions from Coal-Fired Power Plants Using Microalgae.”
The UK CAER team has become a global leader in developing technology to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired flue gas using microalgae, with subsequent conversion of the resulting algal biomass to bioplastics, chemicals and fuels. This DOE funding, which totals $1 million from DOE and about $250,000 in non-DOE cost share, will allow the CAER team to investigate a combined photobioreactor/pond cultivation process to decrease the cost of algae cultivation while developing a strategy to maximize value from the algal biomass.
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