by David A. Nuttle
Fossil fuels will continue to be a primary source of energy for several more decades. This source of energy produces large quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary “greenhouse” gas so damaging to our environment. To overcome related, real threats to our health, it will be necessary to employ carbon sequestration ------the capture, storage, and/or reuse of carbon from CO2 emissions.
The President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has underscored the importance of carbon sequestration for the U.S. economy and the future health of our population. PCAST’s recent report concluded that a much larger science-based CO2 sequestration program should be developed. As a result, the Joint Office of Fossil Energy & Science (JOFES) has developed new guidelines for carbon sequestration research (see below).
Using present technology, estimates of current sequestration costs range from $100 to $300 per ton of carbon. The JOFES goal is to reduce the cost of carbon sequestration to $10 per ton of carbon, by 2015. Sequestration techniques developed must be efficient as well as low-cost, and they must provide environmentally benign, stable storage or use. By achieving sequestration goals, the U.S. could save several trillion dollars in this century.
Some of the sequestration techniques being considered include: 1) Injection of CO2 into geological formations or oil/gas reservoirs; 2) Injection of CO2 into the deep ocean; 3) Improved full life-cycle carbon uptake by terrestrial ecosystems; 4) Advanced chemical, biological, and decarbonization concepts; 5) Production of CO2 clathrate and magnesium carbonate; 6) Synthetic ammonia production, H2 production, and limestone calcinations; and 7) Other innovative methods under development. (In the final analysis, the vast majority of these sequestration options may be inefficient or too costly.)
Needful Provision, Inc. (NPI) has been perfecting a carbon sequestration method using the author’s (Nuttle’s) U.S. Patent No. 5,121,708 for algalculture production. This is a technique for producing freshwater microalgae using manure effluent as a primary nutrient source. Carbon (the remaining 40 percent of nutrients needed) --- is delivered by super-aeration to provide CO2. There is a double environmental benefit since excess nutrients (from manure) are recovered and recycled, and excess CO2 is removed from the air for carbon uptake by algae. Algalculture is made more cost effective by the sale of nutraceuticals, multi-nutrient supplements, polyphenolics, and lipids derived from the algal crops.
NPI’s algalculture system has been licensed to Preparedness Systems Intl. (PSI) to help speed commercialization. PSI is planning work, under a STTR grant from USDOE, to perfect carbon sequestration using algalculture. Plans are also being made for rapid development of algalculture production cooperatives to assist the farmers who want to participate in algalculture. PSI is preparing to market the polyphenolics produced ---- a product that reduces most of the typical damage from major diseases (per the results of recent research from the University of California, at Davis).