Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased since the industrial revolution due to the increase in combustion of fossil fuels. One possible alternative strategy is the use of microalgae for CO2 capture and recycling. Major components in coal-derived flue gas that may accumulate and effect algae growth include both sulfur oxides and fly ash. However, in practical application, sulfur oxides will be converted quickly to the acid product (H2SO4) in the aerobic aqueous conditions of algae cultivation. In this article, the influence of elevated H2SO4 levels and the presence of coal-derived fly ash were investigated. As the H2SO4 level increased, algae growth was inhibited and finally ceased; however, this affect could be minimized by the addition of NaHCO3 as a buffer. The effect of ash on the growth of algae was related to the type of coal-fired combustion and the amount of ash. For one of the ash types tested, the algae growth rate actually increased at a low ash concentration. In this work, major technical hurdles in the use of algal scrubbing systems are being addressed with respect to major contaminants in coal-derived flue gases.

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Published in Transactions of the ASABE, v. 56, issue 6, p. 1421-1429.

© 2013 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

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The authors would like to thank the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence for funding.

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This article is published with the approval of the Director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station as Paper No. 13-05-136.