Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018

In collaboration with fellow researchers, chemists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed a process that, according to initial calculations, can facilitate economically removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The latest World Climate Report (IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ° C) acknowledges the global relevance of the process.

There is an acute need for action if global warming is to be mitigated to a reasonable extent. In this context, the current World Climate Report winks at a technology developed by chemists at the Technical University of Munich.


The carbon fiber reinforcement gives the granite plate an extremely high strength, enabling completely new, efficient constructions.

Photo: Andreas Battenberg / TUM


TUM’s AlgaeTec facility at Ludwig Bölkow Campus, south of Munich.

Photo: Andreas Heddergott / TUM

Opening an option for a net carbon sink, the technology tackles the problem of atmospheric warming at the root.

Algae convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, power plants or steel processing exhaust into algae oil. In a subsequent step, this is then used to produce valuable carbon fibers – economically, as initial analyses show.

A climate-neutral process

Important technical groundwork was done by Professor Thomas Brück and his team at the Algae Cultivation Center of the Technical University of Munich.

The algae investigated at the center not only produce biofuel, but can also be used to efficiently produce polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fibers. The energy of parabolic solar reflectors then chars the PAN-fibers to yield carbon fibers in a CO2-neutral manner.

Carbon fibers can be deployed to produce lightweight and high-strength materials that. At the end of their life cycle, the carbon fibers can be stockpiled in empty coal seams, permanently removing the associated carbon dioxide equivalents from the atmosphere.

A climate-friendly economic model

Brück's colleague Prof. Uwe Arnold and Dipl.-Ing. Kolja Kuse also examined the economic aspects, technical applications and environmental impact of the entire process. "This is a novel, climate-friendly economic model in which we intelligently combine standard processes with innovations," says Arnold.

"When you make plastics from carbon dioxide, it is quickly returned to the atmosphere through waste incineration plants following a few years of use," says Kuse. "With the final safe storage, we remove the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for millennia. This also makes the process clearly superior to carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the underground."

Carbon fibers from algae are no different from conventional fibers and can therefore be used in all existing processes. Another important field of application could be the construction industry, which accounts for a significant proportion of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon fibers can replace structural steel in construction materials. Thanks to their strength, they save on cement, and granite reinforced with carbon fiber can even be used to produce beams that have the same load-bearing capacity as steel but are as lightweight as aluminum.

Algae farms the size of Algeria

Brück now plans to further improve the algae technology. Large-scale plants are conceivable in southern Europe and North Africa. "The system is easily scalable to large areas," says Brück. "Plants which together would cover the size of Algeria would offset all CO2 emissions from air transport."

Brück rejects any suggestion that the technology would compete with the agricultural use of land, as is the case with biogas. "Saltwater algae thrive in sunny areas. In North Africa, for example, there are ample stretches of land where agriculture makes no sense."

###

Further information:

The research was funded by the Werner Siemens Foundation and the European Business Council for Sustainable Energy e.V. In addition to the Werner Siemens Chair of Synthetic Biotechnology at the Technical University of Munich, AHP GmbH & Co. KG (Berlin), TechnoCarbonTechnologies GbR (Munich) and the Institute of Textile Technology of RWTH Aachen University participated in the research.

Publications:

Carbon Capture and Sustainable Utilization by Algal Polyacrylonitrile Fiber Production: Process Design, Techno-Economic Analysis, and Climate Related Aspects. Uwe Arnold, Thomas Brück, Andreas De Palmenaer und Kolja Kuse, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2018 57 (23), 7922-7933, DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.7b04828

Energy-Efficient Carbon Fiber Production with Concentrated Solar Power: Process Design and Techno-economic Analysis. Uwe Arnold, Andreas De Palmenaer, Thomas Brück und Kolja Kuse. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2018 57 (23), 7934-7945, DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.7b04841

Cited in “IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C”, Chapter 4: Strengthening and implementing the global response;
http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_chapter4.pdf

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Thomas Brück
Technical University of Munich
Werner Siemens Chair of Synthetic Biotechnology (WSSB)
Lichtenbergstr. 4, 85748 Garching, Germany
Phone: +49 89 289 13253, e-mail: brueck@tum.de
Web: http://www.wssb.ch.tum.de/index.php?id=761&L=1

Originalpublikation:

Carbon Capture and Sustainable Utilization by Algal Polyacrylonitrile Fiber Production: Process Design, Techno-Economic Analysis, and Climate Related Aspects. Uwe Arnold, Thomas Brück, Andreas De Palmenaer und Kolja Kuse, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2018 57 (23), 7922-7933, DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.7b04828

Energy-Efficient Carbon Fiber Production with Concentrated Solar Power: Process Design and Techno-economic Analysis. Uwe Arnold, Andreas De Palmenaer, Thomas Brück und Kolja Kuse. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2018 57 (23), 7934-7945, DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.7b04841

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.tum.de/nc/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/35078/ Press release on TUM-website
https://mediatum.ub.tum.de/1455514 High resolution images
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.iecr.7b04828 Original publication I
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.iecr.7b04841 Original publication II
http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/ IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C

Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New therapeutic approach to combat African sleeping sickness
20.02.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht 'Butterfly-shaped' palladium subnano cluster built in 3-D
20.02.2019 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

Im Focus: Famous “sandpile model” shown to move like a traveling sand dune

Researchers at IST Austria find new property of important physical model. Results published in PNAS

The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New therapeutic approach to combat African sleeping sickness

20.02.2019 | Life Sciences

Powering a pacemaker with a patient's heartbeat

20.02.2019 | Medical Engineering

The holy grail of nanowire production

20.02.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>