Scripps Scientists Want to Use Algae to Create New Energy Source

They hope to eventually replace fossil fuels.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Southern California Gas Co. announced Monday they will collaborate on an effort to convert emissions from natural gas combustion into biomethane, biodiesel or animal feed.

The system would use algae to consume carbon dioxide emissions.

“If the Phase I analysis proves such systems can be safe and economical, we then hope to enter into a Phase II agreement to help SoCalGas build and operate a module of a commercially scaled system, and test its capabilities at a site to be selected within Southern California,'' said Dominick Mendola, a senior development engineer for Scripps.

The system would target industrial sources of natural gas combustion like power plants, large engines used in natural gas compression and water pumping and boilers used to produce steam for industrial processes such as enhanced oil recovery.

“Recovering CO2 from combustion and turning it into a valuable commodity such as biomethane, biodiesel or a high-quality animal feedstock is great for the environment while creating valuable products,'' said Hal Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for Southern California Gas Co.

“None of this is easy, but working with world-class scientific organizations like Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UC San Diego greatly improves our chances of success.”

Scripps researchers have been studying how to use algae to create energy that would replace fossil fuels. They hope to eventually come up with a system in which algae's natural ability to absorb carbon dioxide can be harnessed to create new types of fuel. 

—City News Service

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