CARBON captured from an industrial plant is to be used to produce omega-3 rich algae for fish feed in a project in Norway.
The £1.2 million pound ($2.19 million) pilot scheme will take pure carbon dioxide caught by a test facility from a nearby refinery, but instead of storing it underground like other projects being developed to capture the gas, it will put it to use for another industry – aquaculture.
Seafood is Norway’s second biggest export after oil and gas, with exports to 150 countries worth £6 billion pounds ($10.95 billion) in 2013.
But while demand for farmed fish is growing, the aquaculture industry is facing a shortage of omega-3, the fatty acid used in fish feed, the project’s backers say.
The scheme, co-funded by the Norwegian government, will use the carbon dioxide to produce marine algae, which needs the gas to produce food from sunlight using photosynthesis, and which is the source of omega-3 in the oceans.
Research suggests that fish and aquatic life remove 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.
Frank Ellingsen, Managing Director at CO2 Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), the facility where carbon capture technology is being developed and tested, said:
‘Carbon is becoming increasingly constrained in the global economy, whilst food demand from farmed fish is rising.
‘It seems to be a smart solution to combine the two issues, using CO2, the by-product of the oil and gas sector, as a raw material for aquaculture.
‘The test production of omega-3 rich raw material for fish feed from algae will start at Mongstad as early as next year (2015), providing a sustainable solution to an environmental problem and a proactive alternative to the passive deposition of CO2.’
Svein Nordvik, Managing Director of the CO2Bio network of industry and researchers operating the project, said:
‘Undertaking advanced marine microalgae production on the doorstep of the world’s largest single market for feed is important for long-term growth of the Norwegian aquaculture industry and for enhanced sustainability of marine raw materials.
‘It’s inspiring to think that this project could create a virtuous circle, by addressing the growth in global population as well as putting carbon emissions to good use.’
The construction of the 300-square-metre algae production test facility, which will use the captured carbon dioxide as well as residual heat from the test facility to produce the algae, is scheduled to be completed in early 2015.
A five-year research programme will then be undertaken with a view to establishing a commercial plant for the production of algae, the pilot’s organisers say.