Is carbon capture too expensive? British startup Brilliant Planet proposes a new solution. As long as a super-large industrial microalgae breeding farm is built on the coast of a desert, the powerful carbon capture capacity of algae can be used to capture and store carbon on a large scale at one-tenth of the cost.
In order to alleviate the problem of climate change caused by global warming, countries have proposed energy saving and carbon reduction and net zero carbon emission measures, but it may not be enough. It is also necessary to reduce carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, which requires higher efficiency, feasibility, and cost-effectiveness ratio carbon capture methods.
The carbon capture and storage model proposed by British startup Brilliant Planet claims to meet all the above conditions and scale can also be expanded to capture billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year with an almost negligible energy demand. As for how cheap? Prices are expected to fall between $50 and $100 per ton, cheaper than the $600 to $1,000 per ton of well-known Swiss carbon capture company Climeworks.
The team's approach is to take advantage of the carbon-capturing capabilities of algae, which, as Brilliant Planet CEO Adam Taylor puts it, are essentially a more efficient carbon-capturing biological machine than trees or plants, with all surface area functions being used for photosynthesis. Resources are not wasted making tree trunks, roots or branches, and, more importantly under the right conditions, algae grow and multiply very quickly.
According to the team's plan, first, find an open space in an offshore desert to dig a large pond. Introduce cold and nutrient-rich "upwelling" seawater from 2~3 kilometers offshore and then select the most suitable algae samples for carbon capture locally and multiply them, filling four 12,000-square-meter ponds.
The company stated that the team's technology is sufficient to create and maintain optimal conditions for algal blooms, including sensors, daily satellite imagery, weather information, and monitoring settings such as simulated cell biology and upwelling software. First, the algae are reproduced with low-cost and abundant additives and then artificial intelligence is used to enhance operation and increase the production capacity.
Finally, the algae can be captured with a fine-mesh filter. After drying, this salty and carbonaceous biomass can be buried 1 to 4 meters under the desert ground and the remaining non-acidic and nutrient-free seawater will be sent back to the ocean. .
The company has identified a total of 500,000 square kilometers of suitable land with an estimated potential of approximately 2 billion tons of carbon capture and storage per year, which could offset more than 5.5% of human annual global carbon dioxide emissions. Talyor said that the company has successfully tested in Oman, South Africa, and has also been testing a 3-hectare plant in Morocco for more than three years. It has also recently received $12 million in Series A financing and is preparing to build a 30-hectare demonstration facility, which is planned for 2023. Construction has started, and the company later plans to build the first commercial plant, covering an area of about 1,000 hectares, will reduce carbon dioxide by about 40,000 tons per year.