Innovative concepts for the use of CO2 in the biomass industry

At the moment, climate protection is mainly about lowering carbon dioxide emissions. Another approach is the active use of the resulting emissions and the associated retention of the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere. Those who manage to find good concepts for the use of carbon dioxide can tap into a resource of raw materials of our current time, for the purchase of which is even paid (CO2 certificates) and make an important contribution to society. Different types of biomass use are predestined for this.

It is well known that the realization of future products, but also of scientific discoveries, not only depend on the developer's intuition and the belief in the usefulness of an innovation, but also (and others would even say “mainly”) on the existing ones economic framework.

The fact that there is an ever better trade for "Pollution Certificates" for carbon dioxide developed and the production of CO2 is associated with economic costs, also leads to that new usage concepts for CO2 can be thought. This is economically interesting and socially relevant (climate protection).

Energy and material use of CO2

The CO2 produced during the oxidation of organic matter contains hardly any usable energy (exergy) depending on temperature and pressure, so that economically sensible concepts for further energetic use and conversion of the gas did not exist to my knowledge.

Since CO2 is a natural building block of biomass, it looks at the material use already different from carbon dioxide and there are increasing ideas to continue using the exhaust gases. This will change the state of Carbon dioxide as a free gas kept as short as possible and converted as directly as possible into a fixed carbon form. Two types of uses for manufacturing Carbon sinks I would like to briefly introduce you within the biomass industry.

Greenhouses and CHPs

First a concept, which is already a few years old, but is only becoming more widespread due to the spread of cogeneration technology.

The natural proportion of carbon dioxide in the ambient air is approx. 350 ppm. However, it has been scientifically investigated that many plants have a higher CO2 content of around 800 - 1000 ppm than Optima for their growth.

By fertilizing with CO2 over the artificial introduction into greenhouses the carbon dioxide content is optimized for plant growth and the chance of a temporary limitation is reduced by this parameter.

The exhaust gases from a CHP plant, which are generated during the generation of electricity from biogas and natural gas, contain around 6% CO2. These emissions can be introduced into the greenhouse via a few processing steps, where the CO2 can add further value.

Microbes and CO2

An order of magnitude smaller should now also increasingly use microorganisms. So plan RWE Power and the company BRAIN the methods of white biotechnology with the goals of Power generation and climate protection connect to.

As white biotechnology are biotechnological processes that are used to optimize industrial processes. The main use is made of microorganisms or enzymes.

The goal of the specific project is to design microorganisms so that they Convert CO2 more efficiently thereby increasing the growth rate of the microbes. There is a small reduction in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, at the same time the carbon is fixed as biomass. This biomass can be used for Electricity production or recycling be used.

The Design of microorganisms on the one hand it sounds like a very strong interference in the natural processes of nature, in which (at least for me) many warning signals come on. On the other hand, this approach “only” corresponds to accelerated breeding in order to specifically promote desired development preferences at the genetic level. This approach certainly takes getting used to.

So far, agriculture has mainly been based on animals and plants. The possibility of using (I don't know if we can talk about cooperation) microorganisms therefore seems obvious to me.

Photo: Thanks to emergence

2 comments on “Innovative concepts for the use of CO2 in the biomass industry”

  1. Hello Ron,

    I have been following this idea of ​​using Ab - CO2 for a long time.

    A prerequisite would be a location with high heat requirements.

    We have this mainly in winter. One of many methods of covering this is the heat pump, based on which it compresses a gas. In summer, when we generate electricity with a CHP plant, we can usually not do much with the heat, unless we have a corresponding need for cooling in the cold store or near the city, which can be covered by ad / absorption technology.

    So it's best to only produce biogas in winter.

    When I compress the exhaust gas from a CHP engine, I get CO2 liquid in addition to the desired heat at a certain pressure / temperature constellation. Furthermore, trouble-free water, but the pressure is probably not enough to make the 60% nitrogen liquid.
    We then let it relax in the atmosphere after it has made CO2 one degree colder. We save CO2 liquid for the summer then send it to the city via the local cooling network or relax it via a power machine and send the brine cold into the city. CO2 gas then feeds our chlorella on the roof or the tomatoes under glass. If we only consider the exhaust gas of the engine, it may not need its own compressor, it is enough to throttle the exhaust gas at the cold end. However, if we have a separate compressor
    part of the biogas could be converted into liquid CO2 and CNG and made transportable.

    Have fun with my imagination


  2. Hi Paul, thank you for these creative ideas!

    I particularly liked the idea that the biogas produced could only be used in winter (turned into electricity) and stored during the warmer seasons. For the upcoming amendment to the EEG, some parties are proposing that the promotion of biogas electricity be linked to an effective heat use concept. Saving biogas also costs energy, but this investment may be worthwhile if it significantly increases the amount of heat used. In some regions and in some plants, this seasonal generation of electricity from the biogas may lead to more economical operation. A very interesting mind game.

    Of course, it has the disadvantage that the biogas plant in question would not produce electricity in the warm seasons (but maybe at least at night?) And the storage facilities would probably have to be very large, but that would have to be calculated. Bioenergy is increasingly being proposed as a supplementary control energy for fluctuating wind and solar energy because it is currently the easiest to store.

    I find the concept quite exciting and questions existing energy production cycles. The other suggestions for using CO2 are highly topical, but I am somewhat critical of this topic. However, there may be cases in which CO2 storage makes a lot of sense. However, the direct use of carbon dioxide as a carbon source for algae or vegetables is a point that I am also very interested in and that could be an important step in closing the nutrient cycles even better in the future.

    Best regards,

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