Algae can help in reducing carbon dioxide

The green slimy algae can play a major role in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

New Delhi: The green slimy algae can play a major role in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and cleaning industry-polluted air.

The Orissa government is launching a project to capture carbon dioxide using algae, the first such venture in India, with the rising number of industries in the state.

The Rs.95-lakh/Rs 9.5 million project will be started this month on a pilot basis at public sector undertaking Nalco`s (National Aluminum Company) thermal power plant at Angul in Orissa.

As per the project, algae will be grown in shallow ponds and carbon dioxide produced from the thermal power plant will be tapped and introduced in the pond. Being soluble in water, carbon dioxide will get absorbed in it. Carbon dioxide and water are the basic requirements for algae growth and this in turn will release oxygen as a by-product.

"A few countries in the world - the US, China, Canada and Israel - have used the technology for capturing carbon. However, it hasn`t been used for commercial purpose so far, though laboratory tests have shown positive results. We are starting a pilot project and by the end of 2011 results will start coming," Siddhanta Das, member secretary of the Orissa Pollution Control Board, told reporters.

The project is said to be 100 times more efficient in carbon sequestration or capturing compared to plantation.

Das, who was in the capital to attend a meeting with the environment ministry, said: "If positive results come out, it will be a major breakthrough and the state government may replicate it in other industries across the state."

"We will ask other industries to start similar projects to bring down the emission levels in the state," he added.

Canada-based researcher Ranjan Pradhan, who worked on a similar project in Toronto, is guiding the state in the venture.

"Nalco has allocated half an acre for the project and seeds of the algae will be brought from Toronto. Pradhan along with the Orissa Pollution Control Board will look after the venture," Pradhan told reporters.
Explaining the efficiency of carbon sequestration using algae, Das said, "The algae will grow very fast in the pond and has to be harvested every six months. Carbon sequestration will be up by 50 times."

"Algae has got an inherent value and biofuel can be produced from it. The high-end use can even produce protein as its protein value is 20 times more than soyabean," he said.

The project comes at a time when the emission levels are rising in the state and several new energy projects are being initiated.
The environment ministry has already pointed out four industrial clusters in the state under the critically polluted sector where such initiatives are necessary to bring down the pollution levels.


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