Algal carbon conversion flagship
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NRC Technical Officer Dr. Kyoung Park poses beside a NRC-developed "Brite-Box" photobioreactor.
NRC's Algal Carbon Conversion (ACC) Flagship will provide Canadian industry with a cost‑competitive, value‑generating solution to divert CO2 emissions into algal biomass, which can then be processed into biofuels and other marketable products. The flagship initiative represents an opportunity to address the environmental, energy and economic issues associated with industrial emissions by exploring how CO2 emissions can be sustainably and profitably converted by algae into valuable products, without displacing food crop resources.
The primary objective of the ACC Flagship is for NRC and its partners to establish a pilot‑scale algal biorefinery at an industrial site. This demonstration facility will be integrated into the industry's operations, with direct access to industrial flue gas emissions, wastewater and waste heat, and will be used to test and evaluate the scalability and cost‑effectiveness of current algal cultivation technologies for potential commercial deployment.
NRC has already engaged a number of partners for the ACC demonstration facility, and is currently seeking partners for four additional R&D streams designed to support the flagship initiative. New partners could include Canadian stakeholders, ranging from large final emitters (LFEs) to small companies providing dedicated solutions throughout the value chain. NRC is also interested in partnering with international companies that possess innovative technologies and essential expertise, and are well positioned to contribute to Canada's algal and environmental initiatives.
Overall, the ACC Flagship will stimulate the development of innovative technologies, and provide novel products and services to establish, construct and sustain the biorefinery infrastructure and its associated value streams. The biorefinery demonstration facility will grow algal biomass while remediating wastewater and recycling industrial CO2 emissions. The algal biomass will further be processed into high‑value products, ranging from renewable biofuels, to soil amendment products, animal feed and specialized bioactive products for health and agricultural markets.
In addition to the industrial biorefinery, NRC's flagship initiative features four R&D streams that support the pilot project, as well as future commercial deployment of the technology. The streams are as follows:
- Algae: Identifying the most appropriate algae strains for deployment and the optimal conditions for their growth.
- PBR & Light: Improving algal productivity and minimizing operating costs for photobioreactors.
- Harvesting and Dewatering: Reducing costs for processing algal biomass.
- Additional Value Streams: Creating high‑value, sustainable products from algal biomass.
NRC partners will benefit from a strong core of algal knowledge and capabilities, as well as a comprehensive breadth of expertise in marine biosciences, biotechnology and plant biology, leveraged by close links with industry. As the flagship's four R&D streams evolve, partners will have the opportunity to explore many other uses and developments of algae for a variety of commercially viable applications.
The full impacts of this initiative are projected to lead to the deployment of enough algal biorefinery facilities to divert up to 20% of Canadian carbon dioxide emissions from large final emitters (LFEs) by 2060.
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