A Combined Biological and Chemical Flue Gas Utilization System towards Carbon Dioxide Capture


Pilot photobioreactor system schematic, T. B. Simon Power Plant
Pilot photobioreactor system schematic, T. B. Simon Power Plant
Michigan State University
Website:  Michigan State University
Award Number:  FE0030977
Project Duration:  10/01/2017 – 09/30/2020
Total Award Value:  $1,268,990
DOE Share:  $999,976
Performer Share:  $269,014
Technology Area:  Carbon Use and Reuse
Key Technology:  Biological Conversion
Location:  East Lansing, Michigan

Project Description

Researchers at Michigan State University, in partnership with PHYCO2, are developing a system that combines biological and chemical processes to efficiently capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-fired power plant flue gas and produce amino acid absorbents, polyurethanes, biodiesel, and methane. The system includes a high-rate photobioreactor for algae cultivation and a cascade biomass conversion process that sequentially converts algal biomass components into amino acid salt absorbents, biodiesel, polymers, and methane. The process uses residual heat from the power plant, creating a positive energy balance for algal cultivation and chemical production. By synergistically integrating algal cultivation and algae-based amino acid salt CO2 absorption, the majority of CO2 is completely captured from the power plant and the footprint of algal cultivation is reduced compared with using algal cultivation alone. Researchers will optimize the growth of a selected algal strain to maximize biomass accumulation and validate long-term stability of the algal culture without any contamination issues using two advanced pilot-scale photobioreactors located in the T.B. Simon Power Plant. Optimization of the cascade conversion process will be performed to achieve nearly 100 percent utilization of the algal biomass, and includes developing high-efficiency protein extraction, optimizing the mixed amino acid salt solution to achieve a CO2 absorption capacity of at least 0.5 mole CO2/mole amino acid solution, and evaluating the synthesis of biopolyol for polyurethane production. A techno-economic analysis and life-cycle assessment will be completed for a full-scale system based on a 160-MWe coal-fired power plant.

Project Benefits

This combined biological and chemical flue gas utilization process will lead to a technically and economically feasible commercial-scale system that efficiently captures the CO2 in coal-fired flue gas to grow algae biomass and convert it to large-volume, value-added chemicals and fuels.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager 
Andrew O'Palko: andrew.opalko@netl.doe.gov
Technology Manager 
Lynn Brickett: lynn.brickett@netl.doe.gov
Principal Investigator 
Wei Liao: liaow@msu.edu

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