ABO expands carbon utilization campaign

By Algae Biomass Organization | November 11, 2014

The Algae Biomass Organization, the trade association for the algae industry, has unveiled a new website – www.recyclecarbon.org — as part of its ongoing campaign to persuade the U.S. EPA to explicitly recognize carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technologies as approved emissions reduction strategies under its new power plant regulations. ABO believes such recognition would encourage the development of innovative technologies that can use greenhouse gases to make valuable products while simultaneously reducing emissions.

Earlier this fall, ABO launched a “We the People” White House petition to drive awareness and support of Carbon Capture and Utilization. Nearly 350 respondents from 45 states and 215 cities signed the petition, demonstrating broad enthusiasm across the political spectrum.

The new website will serve as a clearing house for information about CCU technologies, news articles, videos, published and peer reviewed scientific research. It will also provide tools for supporters to take action of their own to promote commonsense regulations and markets for carbon dioxide.

One such tool on the new website provides an easy way for supporters to send a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy advocating for CCU. The letter makes the case for CCU and offers supporters a chance to share with the EPA their own perspectives and experience with this promising technology. ABO Executive Director Matt Carr will exhort attendees at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference to sign the letter and consider joining the coalition.

“We invite all stakeholders with an interest in the market for carbon dioxide as a feedstock to join us as we build technologies that beat back the buildup of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere,” Carr said. “Innovation in many promising new technologies enables us to bring the practice of ‘reduce, reuse, and recycle’ to CO2 emissions, unlocking new opportunities and turning a global problem into a global opportunity.”

A number of new technologies are being brought to market that consume carbon dioxide as a feedstock, making this approach a potent weapon in the fight against climate change. In contrast to CO2 disposal options like carbon capture and sequestration, CCU flips the challenge of complying with emissions regulations into an opportunity that can have economic and environmental benefits.

Algae technology developers, for example, are developing a wide range of platforms to convert concentrated sources of CO2 to renewable fuels, chemicals, fertilizer, plastics and feed ingredients, as well as high-value products such as nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Dozens of other technologies can use catalysts or biological processes to transform CO2 into products and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Fuels are one such product derived from carbon dioxide that can lead to meaningful emissions reductions.  Peer reviewed lifecycle analyses of two of the largest commercial demonstration algae production facilities show CO2 reductions of 68 to 80 percent.  Every barrel of biofuel produced through carbon capture replaces a barrel of petroleum that would otherwise have been extracted and combusted.

In the United States, the first regulations that will determine the framework of a CCU market will come when the EPA releases its final rules for its proposed Clean Power Plan. ABO and its allies are encouraging the EPA to clarify in that rule that CCU will be an acceptable method for states to meet their emissions targets. Failing to do so will be a missed opportunity to encourage investments in an approach that could deliver positive environmental results along with economic growth, jobs and improved energy security.