ACC India: Industrial farming of CO2 into algal biomass fuel.

ACC, India: Industrial farming of CO2 into algal biomass fuel

ACC has initiated a project to sequester CO2 generated by cement kilns to produce high energy algal biomass, which will then be reused as fuel in its cement kilns. The plan is that the algal biomass produced by the bioreactor, through recycling of the CO2 from the cement kiln stacks, will be directly fired in the captive power plants and the cement kilns. The targeted goal of this ACC project is to harmonize the algal production rate with the CO2 emission rates, and ensure continuous recycling of CO2 and providing continuous algal biomass fuel for the kiln & power plants.

ACC is working on developing a design for a bioreactor to utilize the CO2 from its cement plants and produce oil bearing algae. Conservation of fossil fuel and CO2 mitigation are the two main driving goals of the project. The objectives of the project are to:

  • Explore algal cultures for generating high energy bio fuel for direct firing in power plants/kilns, with a co-benefit of CO2 emissions abatement and carbon credits.
  • Determine the functional and economical feasibility of industrial organic biomass production and to Incorporate the technology into the production of cement by ACC.

The project involves the screening of appropriate high and fast yielding algae culturaes, the development of a bioreactor on a lab bench scale, scaling up the technology to a pilot plant and then demonstrating the same commercially. This requires a multi disciplinary approach and involves microbiologists, algae experts, bio-technologists, engineers and other professionals. The company and other implementing agencies will be undertaking trials of different industrial systems to identify the best strains and most appropriate culture methods for incorporation into the cement production process for the continuous harvesting of CO2 and recycling of it into a biomass fuel which will either be reused in the cement plant or marketed to third parties.
ACC has plans to re-engineer the algal bioreactor trials to sequester CO2 and produce continually harvested algal bio mass, and convert the best of the lot into a plant scale bioreactor, which would produce algae at the rate corresponding to CO2 generation from a cement plant. This would make the process cyclical in nature. For this research, ACC are in discussion with The Indian Institute of Agricultural Research (IARI), The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and National Council for Cement and Building Materials India (NCBM).

  • The generation of marketable renewable energy reducing consumption and saving the cost of fossil fuels.
  • Recycling CO2 by using it and cultured algae to produce combustible biomass for in house consumption and sale to other industries.
  • The elimination of CO2 emissions from cement plants and other industries. Around two billion tons of CO2 are generated by the cement plants on a global scale. Using the technologies discussed in this paper even the chemical release of the gas from the manufacture of Portland cement is potentially a fuel.
  • Reducing the exposure of industry to the volatility of the price and availability of fossil fuel worldwide.
  • Building a corporate brand image fulfilling commitments to sustainable development.
  • Creating value in CO2 abatement credits.
  • Extending the service life of existing power, cement and other fossil fuel using industrial assets, by making them more profitable and environmentally acceptable and compliant.