Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Look To Nature To Cut Greenhouse Emissions

Date:
July 20, 2000
Source:
Ohio University
Summary:
Greenhouse gas emissions are an environmental concern and acostly problem for coal-fired power plants, which are facing tighter federal pollution laws. But scientists at Ohio University are looking to nature to develop a cleaner, inexpensive way of removing carbon dioxide from smokestacks.

ATHENS, Ohio – Greenhouse gas emissions are an environmental concern and acostly problem for coal-fired power plants, which are facing tighter federal pollution laws. But scientists at Ohio University are looking to nature to develop a cleaner, inexpensive way of removing carbon dioxide from smokestacks.

Related Articles


The researchers, supported by a new $1.07 million grant from the U. S. Department of Energy, are studying how algae and sunlight, in a natural process known as photosynthesis, can absorb some of the carbon dioxide produced after coal is burned. Though other scientists have used lakes filled with algae to absorb gas emissions, the Ohio University team has proposed growing and harvesting the organisms directly in the exhaust gas from power plants.

Algae is not only cheap and plentiful, but could be collected from the power plants for use by agricultural industries, says David Bayless, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and lead researcher on the project.

"We're storing carbon dioxide in organisms that exist in your backyard," Bayless says. "Once the algae is grown, if it can't be used as fuel or a hydrogen source, it can be used as a fertilizer or soil stabilizer."

The process, he says, would work something like this: As the carbon dioxide exhaust moves toward the smokestacks, it would pass through tubes of running water, creating bicarbonates that would bubble in the water like soda pop. The water then flows through a bioreactor that contains a series of screens on which algae grow. "The algae basically drink the bicarbonates," says Bayless, who also serves as associate director of the university's Ohio Coal Research Center. "They get carbon through this system much quicker than trying to get it out of the air."

Using a system of solar panels, satellite dishes and fiber optic cables developed by scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a partner in the project, only visible sunlight would be emitted into the bioreactor, helping the algae to use carbon dioxide for fuel – a process known as photosynthesis.

Once the algae grow to maturity, they fall to the bottom of the bioreactorand are harvested for other uses, says Bayless, who is collaborating on the project with Morgan Vis-Chiasson, an assistant professor of environmental and plant biology who specializes in algae research, and Gregory Kremer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, both at Ohio University.

Until now, the Ohio University team has tested the method on a small scale, growing about 2 pounds of algae in a direct stream of carbon dioxide exhaust with the aid of fluorescent lights. The new, three-year Department of Energy grant will allow them to add the bicarbonate and sunlight systems to the project.

Researchers will use blue-green algae collected by Montana State University colleagues at Yellowstone National Park – where it survives near boiling point temperatures in hot springs, a climate similar to that of a coal-fired power plant. But their ultimate goal is to create technology that can use any type of algae found in abundance in the world.

"We hope to make this a process that doesn't depend on any specific organism, to be used by any power plant," Bayless says.

No one technology can solve the carbon dioxide problem for coal-burning power plants, Bayless stresses, but the algae-fueled bioreactor could serve as an efficient, cost-effective part of the gas emission reduction strategy. He estimates that an average-size plant using this technology could process 20 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions and produce 200,000 tons or more of algae per year.

The bioreactor is one of several energy technologies being developed by Bayless and other scientists with the university's Ohio Coal Research Center to make Ohio coal a cleaner, more viable fuel source. In other projects supported by the Ohio Coal Development Office, the researchers are exploring ways to reduce toxic sulfur emissions by changing the chemical composition of the exhaust gas, and are developing a new device that could more efficiently collect additional heavy metal particles from the exhaust stream.

Bayless and Kremer hold appointments in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Vis-Chiasson holds an appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio University. "Scientists Look To Nature To Cut Greenhouse Emissions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000720080707.htm>.
Ohio University. (2000, July 20). Scientists Look To Nature To Cut Greenhouse Emissions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000720080707.htm
Ohio University. "Scientists Look To Nature To Cut Greenhouse Emissions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/07/000720080707.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 28, 2015) Heavy rain and flooding sweep through parts of Bolivia causing damage and leaves more than 2,000 people homeless. Sophia Soo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins