China Cuts Carbon Emission With Microalgae, Produces Electricity With Crop Residue

Buildings shrouded in smog are pictured as Mexico's government ordered schools in and around Mexico City to be closed on Thursday due to elevated levels of pollution, in Mexico City, Mexico May 16, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero)

Companies in China's coal-rich Shanxi Province developed a system that uses microalgae to cut carbon emissions. Chinese researchers found that burning a mixture of coal and crop residue produces a cost-effective, net carbon-negative electricity source that can be distributed to commercial levels which are in line with the global temperature objectives of the mid-century.

China's Shanxi Agricultural University uses a kind of algae in handling pollutants like carbon dioxide in waste gases. The university found out that the use of the algae is more cost efficient and it is 10 times more effective in filtering carbon than the normal plants. Xinhua, a Chinese state-run news agency, reported that it can absorb more than 65 percent of the carbon dioxide. It was found out to hold 90 percent of nitride and sulfide in smoke.

China aims to decrease its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65 percent until 23. The Asian giant promoted the use of renewable energy source in its industry.

A group of Chinese researchers also discovered that the mixture of coal and crop residue biomass provides cost-effective, net carbon-negative electricity source.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change stated that the main goal of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. It was agreed that the global temperature rise of the century should remain below 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels. The investigation on how to meet the agreement's standard emphasized the necessity of carbon-negative technologies.

Wei Peng, an assistant professor in environmental engineering and international affairs at Penn State, said that carbon-negative technology is the common consensus in the field. He added that there have not been that many negative-emissions technologies that are being deployed on a commercial scale until now.

The researchers believe that one of the most viable net carbon-negative technologies in certain regions around the world, especially in China is the integrated gasification cycle system combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS). The method proposed by Mr. Peng and his colleagues burns the combined coal and crop residue biomass using a gasifier. The method produces a clean stream of carbon dioxide that can be captured and stored in deep geological formations.

Mr. Peng said that based on China's situation, they identified under which circumstances they can achieve zero carbon emissions, both in terms of direct emissions during the electricity production process as well as lifecycle emissions.

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