The Southern California Gas Company, which provides natural gas to southern California homes and businesses, has hired a firm to develop a way to capture its CO2 emissions to feed to algae in order to generate more gas.

With a goal of creating a closed-loop system, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography will be working on finding a way to take carbon dioxide from SoCal gas plants, feed it into algae ponds, and capture the algae-generated methane to feed back into the gas pipeline for the utility to use.

“What we want to study is how much CO2 could we capture from a power plant and turn it into algal biomass,” said Dominick Mendola, one of the two lead researchers at Scripps.

Algae requires CO2, water and sunlight to grow, so capturing and using the emissions from a natural gas plant make perfect sense. Large-scale algae ponds also require a lot of land, so putting them on existing plots at utility plants would reduce any NIMBY concerns about their development. Many scientists and studies have deemed algae to be the fuel of the future, with uses ranging from the methane gas that SoCal Gas wants or for the generation of biodiesel.

SoCal Gas is the largest natural gas utility in the country, and it is looking for new ways to meet the greenhouse gas emissions rules set up by California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, which encourages GHG reductions in the electricity and natural gas industry. If it is able to build a 100 percent closed-loop system, the design and implementation could be a model for other utilities to follow in order to cut their own emissions while producing much-needed gas. Scripps has been hired

[via North Country Times]

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