Improving the Economic Viability of Biological Utilization of Coal Power Plant CO2 by Improved Algae Productivity and Integration with Wastewater


Novel algae technology flow diagram
Novel algae technology flow diagram
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Website:  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Award Number:  FE0030822
Project Duration:  10/01/2017 – 09/30/2020
Total Award Value:  $1,249,874
DOE Share:  $999,536
Performer Share:  $250,338
Technology Area:  Carbon Use and Reuse
Key Technology:  Biological Conversion
Location:  Urbana, Illinois

Project Description

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois, in partnership with Helios-NRG, will further develop a novel algae-based technology for efficient cost-effective capture and utilization of carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plant flue gas to generate algal biomass products for which there is a large market (liquid transportation fuels and livestock animal feeds). The team will first produce selected algae strains in a cultivation environment infused with simulated flue gas and concentrated wastewater nutrient liquids at bench-scale and then transition to pilot-scale using a proprietary multi-stage bioreactor to achieve an average biomass productivity of 35 grams per square meter per day, and carbon capture above 70 percent. Nutrient input costs will be reduced by integrating algae cultivation with wastewater treatment operations, providing an extra revenue stream for wastewater nutrient removal, and potentially providing a low-cost method of transporting flue gas through the sewer system. Two novel membrane separation processes will be tested that can significantly reduce the cost and energy needed for dewatering algal biomass and concentrating the aqueous byproduct of hydrothermal conversion of algal biomass to biofuels. A techno-economic analysis and a life-cycle analysis will also be performed.

Project Benefits

This novel algae-based technology provides significant improvements in the cost and environmental impact of utilizing CO2 from coal-fired power plants by providing an economically viable method to grow algae biomass suitable for large-volume, value-added commodity markets.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Isaac Aurelio:
Technology Manager 
Lynn Brickett:
Principal Investigator 
Lance Schideman:

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