Hello BEST members,
On June 2nd the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule with the goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by 30 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 emission levels. The EPA have targeted existing coal plants as they are currently the largest contributor of CO2 emissions in the country, accounting for 38% of the nation’s emissions. The proposal is planned to be finalized sometime in the middle of next year. The proposal will give states emission targets to meet by upgrading plants, switching from coal to natural gas, or by improving energy efficiency or promoting renewable energy.
One way to achieve emissions reductions and renewable energy promotion is through the use of algae. In order for algae to grow they must have a carbon source. Most types of algae prefer to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide as their carbon source. With this knowledge a system could be engineered to grow algae off of the CO2 in the flue gasses that are produced by these coal power plants. By allowing algae to grow off of the CO2 in the flue gasses that would otherwise be let off into the atmosphere, coal power plants can serve two purposes; not only can algae reduce emissions through the biofixation of CO2 but the algae can then be harvested and converted into biofuel. This extremely sustainable system would recycle waste CO2 and create renewable energy. I look forward to seeing progress as utility companies consider the possibility of coal plant-algae systems.
Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson. “Everything you need to know about the EPA’s proposed rule on coal plants” June 2. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/epa-will-propose-a-rule-to-cut-emissions-from-existing-coal-plants-by-up-to-30-percent/2014/06/02/f37f0a10-e81d-11e3-afc6-a1dd9407abcf_story.html
Thanks for reading,
Brett Nelson
University Scholar – CALS
BioEnergy and Sustainable Technology Lab
Soil and Water Science Department
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