DESAlgae – Capture and re-use of CO2 using deep eutectic solvents and microalgae

Project

DESAlgae – Capture and re-use of CO2 using deep eutectic solvents and microalgae

This project aims to develop a closed CO2-loop: carbonic anhydrase (CA) from microalgae fresh biomass is extracted with deep eutectic solvent (DES); DES+CA mixture in a gas-membrane contactor, will capture and purify CO2 from flue gas; this purified CO2 is used for microalgae biomass production.

Summary

Carbon dioxide (CO2) occurs naturally in nature, and it is essential for processes like photosynthesis. However, high levels of CO2 in atmosphere is one of the causes for air pollution, greenhouse effect, climate changes, and acid rain. Photosynthetic organisms, like microalgae, need CO2 to thrive serving as “carbon sink”. In the presence of sunlight, microalgae capture atmospheric CO2 using carbonic anhydrase (CA), responsible for the interconversion between carbon dioxide and water and the dissociated ions of carbonic acid. This captured carbon is then converted into biomass rich in high-value compounds.

Flue gas is one of the biggest source of atmospheric CO2 pollution. However, the direct use of flue gases from industrial activities is not possible, since a high accumulation of CO2 concentration (above 5%) inhibits microalgae growth. Also, these flue gases are often mixed with other molecules, such as heavy metals, that can be toxic for microalgae

Aim

This project goal is to develop a closed CO2-loop, with the use of gas-membrane contactors and microalgae.

Approach

Here it is proposed to combine two readily available technologies in a way never tested before. This invention explores sustainable, easy synthesis and low-cost solvents - deep eutectic solvents (DES) - with biological CO2 fixation. The result is a closed loop, where CO2 is fixed to generate more CO2 fixation, and biorefinery of high-value compounds for a growing market. The combination of these technologies as one-engineered solution may lead to a break-through in all involved scientific and industrial fields.

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There are different topics available for BSc or MSc thesis within the project. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me!