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Keeping you informed about TecEco sustainability projects.  Issue 64 11th January 2007

Updated Web Site

The web site has been somewhat revamped over the holidays. Why not check it out. www.tececo.com

Earth System Science and TecEcology for Planetary Engineers

Towards forming an Association of Earth Sustainability Engineers

by John Harrison

We can thank James Lovelock as one of the main initiators of a whole of earth way of thinking and awaking us to the fact that the living and the non living are interconnected in one vast, complex system he calls Gaia.

I had always thought as a geologist that life had a much greater role in rock formation than anyone had ever imagined and on reading James books was relieved that I was not alone. The composition of the oceans and atmosphere are also affected by life within the biosphere and the interrelationships are fascinating.

As an economist I have often toyed with the merit of using economic methodologies to describe and explain this mass interaction between living and dead substances and in particular the underlying stocks flows and balances of molecules on the planet. Early on in my pursuit of understanding I coined the concept of moleconomics as a descriptive term for these thoughts, yet am the first to admit that I have only scratched the ideas surface. Thermodynamics is hardly the determinant of the composition of the atmosphere, oceans or even the crust, life has a role (Gaia) and moleconomics may prove to be a useful descriptor.

In more recent times I have become more interested in reversing damaging moleconomics and invented the concept of geomimicry in the spirit of biomimicry (Janine Benyus) but with reference to mimicking geological processes in a different time perspective. True to the concept is the invention of by me of Eco-Cement which mimics geological processes by using carbon dioxide to create solid carbonate rock with which we must create our built environment to survive. The idea of massive sequestration in the built environment has captured world wide attention but cannot be implemented without significant funding which I expect governments or even the UN to facilitate as the rewards are to some extent outside the short time frame for the measurement of profit, the driving force of private enterprise or political success, the driving force of many of our very short sighted politicians.

The pieces of a giant gig saw puzzle were slowly coming together by 2005. In the last year I have become associated with Prof. Chris Cuff and the rest of the members of Greensols Pty. Ltd. and their great contribution is a clear understanding of the precipitation of calcium, magnesium and other carbonates from sea water making possible vast opportunities for sequestration using TecEco binder systems on a massive scale constructing the built environment of carbonate. We originally called this project CarbonSafe but because it does so much more than merely sequester carbon we now call it the Gaia Engineering project. Our planet is blue-green due to the presence of life rather than red or brown and barren like Mars or Venus. We want to keep it that way!

I have recently realised that all these new technology paradigms combined create what we call tececologies that reverse damaging moleconomic flows by redefining them as resources for what I call the techno-process. These tececologies are characterised by proactive earth sustainability engineering and are the solution for our long term survival. As Dr Tim Flannery recently commented in his book "The Weathermakers", whether we like it or not we are planetary engineers. Characteristic of tececologies are new ways of doing things and embracing technologies redefine resource flows and in many cases reverse them. It is a science where back casting and lateral thinking predominate. If you have an exciting new sustainable technology to offer that fits in with the tececology of the Gaia Engineering project please consider joining the Global Sustainability Alliance which currently consisted of Greensols Pty. Ltd. and TecEco Pty. Ltd..

Atmospheric CO2 has increased by roughly 30 percent over the last two centuries. We are fixing vast amounts of nitrogen, particularly as fertilizer, releasing significant sulfurous gases and fresh water is highly stressed with more than half of all accessible surface fresh water put to human use. There is no doubt that tinkering with carbon, nitrogen, water and sulfur moleconomics is having an effect on the planet in ways we are still grasping to understand. Most noticeable is the phenomenon of global warming but there are many other more subtle changes going on as we move out of the mostly comfortable homeostasis we have been accustomed to for the last 11,000 odd years. With all our investment in cities and the infrastructure of civilisation we have a strong vested interest in keeping planet earth just the way it was just a few short years ago so it can sustain its current bio diversity including ourselves.

TecEco, the company I founded has formed Global Sustainability alliance with Greensols and hopefully other companies to promote tececologies such as the creation of magnesium carbonates from seawater and their use to construct the built environment. I am hoping others companies with important new technology paradigms that redefine waste as resource will join us as together we can create tececologies that will make a difference..

I commend Al Gore and many others for the tremendous job they have done alerting us to some of the global problems we have. I am however tired of the lack of action. We solved the problem of rubber resources and the atomic bomb during the last war by the application of funds to science. I want to head up that team of scientists with a virtually unlimited budget to solve some of our worst problems including climate change, waste generally and water. As I am getting older the sooner we get started the better!

It is time to open our cheque books at a national and international level and actively pursue solutions. Many of the wacky current offering such as geosequestration. pumping sulfur gases into the atmosphere and dumping fertilizers as sea should be discarded immediately. Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." We need new tececologies that reverse our damaging moleconomic flows to live in harmony with the earth. The mainstay of these new tececologies will be new technical paradigms that redefine resources.

It is now essential that we apply what we have learned from the study of terra forming other planets to plan and administer the health of our own planet earth in order to maintain its suitability to life as we know it and am pleased to see Earth System Science in the last few years being taught in universities. I believe there is now room for an association embracing professionals working in earth system and related sciences who have realised that we are planetary engineers whether we like it or not and who are developing tececologies to help maintain this wonderful blue green planet or ours. I initially registered planetaryengineering.org as a name for such an association until I realised this would also embrace terra forming other planets and detract from the more urgent task of maintaining our own so I have now registered earthsustainabilityengineering.org in the hope that some of our readers who are interested in fostering tececologies with the hindsight of back casting from the future will join me in forming the earth sustainability engineering association.. I also registered the more general name of earthsustainabilitypractitioners.org for in case future members prefer practitioners but personally I prefer the reference to engineering as in at least one definition engineering is the application of science to the needs of humanity. I caution that there are many colours of sustainability and that the group I hope to form should only be interested in tececologies that maintain the health of our planet. If interested please email me. For my email details go to contacts on the tececo web site.

Sustainable Materials in the Built Environment 2007 - A Conference not to Miss

The SMB2007 Conference is a joint venture between the Association for the Advancement of Sustainable Materials in Construction ( AASMIC) and Materials Australia and is focused on the entire supply chain and in particular users. John Harrison is the founder and president of AASMIC

International speakers include Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and Founding Chairman, U.S. Green Building Council, Tom Graedel, Clifton R. Musser Professor of Industrial Ecology, Professor Adjunct of Chemical Engineering, Professor Adjunct of Geology and Geophysics, Ph.D. University of Michigan Yale and Niclas Svenningsen, Program Officer, Division for Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) United Nations Environment Program. The conference has also secured an excellent selection of Australia's leaders on sustainability in the built environment including Andrew Walker-Morrison, David Oppenheim, Tony McDonald, Lam Pham, Indu Patnaikuni, Graham Treloar. Selwyn Tucker, Roger Fay, Lorina Nervegna, Terry Turney, Ken Stickland, Hyden Dagg, Jay Sanjayan, Chris Cuff, Edward Kosior, Ivan Cole and Phillip Sutton. I will be speaking on concretes generally and will mention fuel manufacture from waste gases (See the following article) and particle packing amongst other surprises!

The Pressure to incorporate more sustainable materials in the vast construction and building industries is a reality which will continue to increase, and this conference will focus on improvements in mainstream materials as well as the new advanced materials and technologies that support sustainability. Tools and methods for assessing materials from the perspective of suppliers regulators and users will also be examined.

The conference will bring together the key players that make up the decision makers in the construction industry and interaction between these groups will facilitate examination of problem areas, assessment of potential solutions and pave the way for improved communications into the future.

The conference will raise the profile of materials and identify the crucial areas for product, tool and policy development, as well as move towards setting a national action agenda for the development and use of more Sustainable Materials in Construction.

For registration please go to the conference web site

Algae That Produce Energy Rich Biomass

We have to start thinking of CO2 as a resource and not as a waste byproduct to be pumped underground or worse, released to the atmosphere. This is particularly true of the cement industry which produces more CO2 than in proportion to the energy used because of the chemical release of the gas from the calcination of limestone.

Algae comprise a vast group of photosynthetic organisms, which have an extraordinary potential for cultivation as energy crops. They can be cultivated under difficult agro-climatic conditions and are able to produce a wide range of commercially interesting compounds such as hydrogen, fats, oils, sugars, carbohydrates and functional bio active compounds from water and CO2 using light as a source of energy. Some strains of algae are effective for the manufacture of hydrocarbons that are suitable for direct use as high-energy liquid fuels. Alcohols can be made from cellulose produced by many other algae and the hunt is on for suitable strains and genetic material. Producing fuel from carbon dioxide by using photosynthetic algae is important not only because the process will offset the decline in oil, but because it also attracts carbon credits and insulates against oil price rises. With many other resources starting to run out substitute timbers, papers, fabrics and foodstuffs that algae can produce are also of interest.

The Australian government is allocating $500 million for solutions to excess carbon dioxide, preference being given so far to re-engineering coal power stations or geosequestration. I have grave concerns about the latter and have expressed them publicly (see The TecEco - Greensols - Submission to the Inquiry into Geosequestration Technology by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Science and Innovation in Australia.) Note that Gaia Engineering is the new name for the CarbonSafe project mentioned in the document.

It would have been far more constructive to be chasing uses for CO2 rather than just burying it. But maybe the hidden agenda is that oil companies want to use CO2 to push up more oil.

The new Gaia Engineering tececologies offered by founding Global Sustainability Alliance members TecEco and Greensols will require methods for sequestering gaseous CO2 from the TecEco Tec-Kiln and Carbonate/Hydroxide Slurry sequestration process and the building of bio reactors to manufacture oils, methanol, ethanol or other fuels from carbon dioxide is a much safer alternative to geosequestration.

Many factors including light, temperature, water and nutrient levels have to be considered for efficient algal cultivation and these vary depending on the particular species or strain. Worldwide research projects have been undertaken to identify suitable growth conditions, nutrient media, specific high yielding strains of algae, and other aspects of cultivation and some ar listed below as case studies.

Case Studies

ACC Project to Recycle CO2 From Cement Kilns into High Energy Algal Biomass Coal Equivalent Fuel

ACC, formerly Associated Cement Companies and now part of the Holcim group have initiated a project to sequester CO2 generated by cement kilns to produce high energy algal biomass, which will then be reused as fuel in its cement kilns. The plan is that the biomass produced by the right strains will be directly fired in power plants and kilns. One of the main goals of the ACC project is to harmonize the algal production rate with CO2 emission rates.

The project involves the screening of appropriate high yielding algae cultures, the development of a bioreactor on a lab bench scale, scaling up the technology to a pilot plant and then demonstrating the same commercially. This will require a multi disciplinary approach and involve microbiologists, algae experts, bio-technologists, engineers and other professionals and cost around $ 3m over a period of 3 years.

Aquatic Species Program (1978-1996)

The ASP was a research program funded by the US Department of Energy, which over the course of two decades looked into the production of energy using algae, later on the aim of the program was focused to the production of bio-diesel from algae using CO2 from coal fired power plants resulting in CO2 sequestration. The researchers colleted about 3000 species from all over North America which had a high lipid content. The program demonstrated CO2 recycling by coupling a coal-fired power plant with an algae farm and a 1000 square meter pond system was established in Roswell, New Mexico. The achieved yield from the algal farms was of 50 grams of algal biomass per square meter per day. However, the major problem of the program was that the yield could not be obtained consistently due to occasional low temperatures, wide swings in temperature and pH, and competition from invasive algae and bacteria.

Greenfuel Technologies Corporation and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Air-lift reactor (ALR)

GreenFuel Technologies Corporation in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have demonstrated a reduction in CO2 emission by 82 percent on sunny days and 50 percent on cloudy days (during daytime) and has cut nitrogen oxides by 85 percent (on a 24-hour basis) using their using their air-lift bio reactors. The installation at MIT’s 20-megawatt co generation plant demonstrates their feasibility and they comprise thirty 3-meter-high triangles of clear pipe containing a mixture of algae and water. The flue gas from the stack is bubbled through the mixture and is harnessed by algae into biomass. The concept of the green fuel Airlift bioreactor is based on photo modulation, in which fluid circulation takes place in a defined cyclic pattern through a glass pipe riser tube and down comer channel. In the riser, gas injection produces a highly turbulent region with high gas holdup. In the down comer, the liquid returns to the bottom after separating from the gas bubbles that disengage in the gas separator. According to GreenFuel, full scale implementation at a 1000 MW coal-fired power plant, processing 100% of the plant’s flue gas (containing 10-15% CO2) will require 10,000 to 15,000 acres in reactive surface area and is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 3.5 millions ton/yr.

Using GreenFuel’s Emissions-to-Bio fuels algae bioreactor system connected to the Arizona Public Service Co.’s 1,040 megawatt Red hawk power plant in Arlington, Arizona, GreenFuel was able to create a carbon-rich algal biomass with sufficient quality and concentration of oils and starch content to be converted into transportation-grade bio diesel and ethanol. GreenFuel and APS were recognized for their work and were awarded the 2006 Platts Global Energy Award for “Emissions Energy Project of the Year.” GreenFuel has also signed an agreement to license its proprietary technology to Global Renewable Energy Efficiency Network, a newly formed bio fuels company in the Republic of South Africa. Global Renewable is headquartered in Johannesburg and led by Frik DeBeer and Hendy Schoonbee, pioneers in South Africa’s bio diesel industry. Under the terms of the agreement, Global Renewable will have the rights to install and operate GreenFuel’s Emissions- to-Biofuels™ algae bioreactor systems at multiple locations with commercial deployment potential of 1,000 acres or more.

Victor Smorgan Group Australia

GreenFuel Technologies has also signed a licensing agreement with The Victor Smorgon Group (VSG) headquartered in Melbourne, Australia granting them and exclusive license to distribute, install and operate GreenFuel’s Emissions-to-Bio fuels proprietary technology throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Under terms of a recently signed deal, VSG will establish a small plant at Hazelwood to test the process. VSG at present produces 12 million litres of bio diesel at its Laverton plant and is in the process of boosting this to 100 million litres. It uses canola, used cooking oil and tallow as raw materials, but recently installed a small facility to turn micro algae to bio fuels.

Carbon dioxide emissions are fed into a network of plastic tubes holding water, algae and nutrients. Through the action of sunlight on the outside of the tubes, photosynthesis occurs and the algae convert the carbon dioxide to oils, protein and carbohydrates in approximately equal parts. The oils are turned into bio diesel, the carbohydrates can be converted into ethanol and the proteins can become stock feed.

Theoretically the process could be used to sequester 42.5 per cent of the output of Hazelwood (or any other carbon dioxide-emitting facility). This figure is calculated on the basis that micro-algae can process 85 per cent of emissions fed into the tubes. But because photosynthesis occurs only in daylight hours, the sequestration process only happens for an average of 12 hours a day.

On the face of it, the economics of the process look promising. Canola and oil palm produce 1000 and 5000 litres of palm oil per hectare of crop a year. The micro-algae process would produce between 80,000 and 120,000 litres of bio diesel from a hectare of land a year, Mr Edwards said.

Because the tubes holding micro-algae must be exposed to sunlight, production plants need to be spread over a wide area. Mr Edwards said the process could deal with 700 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare of pipes. The experimental plant will cover about 60 meters by 10 meters and will sequester only a small amount of carbon.

If the test is successful, International Power and VSG will discuss joint-venture arrangements to roll out the technology commercially at Hazelwood, where there are about 1000 hectares available for the process. That could allow the sequestration of about 5 per cent of Hazelwood's 17 million tonnes of annual carbon dioxide emissions. If the process proves attractive, International Power will look at other potential sites in its international generation portfolio.

One advantage of the technology is that it does not raise costs for power generators or electricity consumers. Whereas processes such as geosequestration are expected to cost about $80 per tonne of carbon dioxide buried in the earth, micro-algae sequestration is a profitable business in itself.

If the process gets rolled out commercially it would significantly advance Australia's bio fuels industry, producing both ethanol and bio diesel with the residues will help a drying continent support its agricultural industries. What is not used more profitably can be dried nd converted into biomass fuels for power stations.

Greenshift Industrial Design Corporation (GIDC) and Ohio University’s (OU)

Cynaobacteria based bioreactor developer GIDC have obtained a non-exclusive license from Ohio University for its patented bioreactor technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the smokestacks of fossil fueled power plants and exclusive rights to the technology for the air pollution control of exhaust gas streams from all other sources. The reactor is composed of parabolic mirrors, fiber optic cables and slabs of acrylic plastic called "glow plates". They system uses the parabolic mirrors to collect sunlight and channel it along plastic fiber-optic cable. The algae grow on membranes of woven fibers resembling window screens interspersed between the glow plates. Capillary action wicks water to the algae, fiber optic cables channel sunlight into the glow plates, and ducts bring in the hot flue gas. By growing the algae on the membranes a lot of surface area is created. Thus only a small amount of water is needed. When the algae grows to maturity it drops to the bottom of the chamber where it can be harvested for use as fuel, fertilizer or a soil stabilizer.

Penthouse Photo bioreactor at the Academic and University Center of Nove Hrady

The Academic and University Center of Nove Hrady, Czech Republic has developed the "penthouse-roof" photo bioreactor which is based on solar concentrators with linear Fresnel lenses mounted in a climate-controlled greenhouse on top of the laboratory complex combining features of indoor and outdoor cultivation units. The dual-purpose system was designed for algal biomass production in temperate climate zone under well-controlled cultivation conditions and with surplus solar energy being used for heating service water. The system was used to study the strategy of micro algal acclimation to high solar irradiance, with values as much as 3.5 times the ambient value, making the approach unique.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Ohio University - Solar Lighting for Growth of Algae in a Photo bioreactor

The ORNL/Ohio University project is demonstrating the feasibility of using remote solar lighting systems to enhance sunlight utilization and biomass production in photobiotic. Large solar collectors on the roof track the sun, collect sunlight, and distribute it through large optical fibers to the bioreactor's growth chamber. The fibers function as distributed light sources to illuminate cyanobacteria (algae). Each growth chamber consists of a series of illumination sheets containing the optical fibers and moist cloth-like membranes on which the algae grow. By stacking the membranes vertically and better distributing the light, more algae can be produced via photosynthesis in a smaller area. Ohio University photo bio reactor use sunlight to sequester carbon from coal-fired power plans as they produce biomass. The Ohio University reactor will ultimately remove the carbon generated by the production of about 125 MW of electricity in a coal fired power station.

Valcent Products Inc “Clean Green” Vertical Bio-Reactor

Valcent Products Inc., has developed a proprietary high density vertical bio-reactor for the mass production of oil bearing algae. This new bio-reactor is tailored to grow a species of algae that yields a large volume of high grade vegetable oil and which is very suitable for blending with diesel to create a bio-diesel fuel. The system consists of a series of closely spaced vertical bio-reactors constructed of thin film membranes allowing high levels of light penetration. The membrane is configured for an optimum flow for the growth of algae. This dynamic system produces much higher algae growth rates than conventional static systems. When fully operational, the system will yield a constant supply of algae which is harvested, dried and processed to remove the oil, leaving a residue of some 50% by weight, which can also be sold for a variety of commercial products. The system has a closed loop allowing for a greater retention of water and eliminating cross contamination by other algae species. Valcent’s new system has indicated a production yield of up to 150,000 gallons per acre per year using extrapolated data from its test bed facility and the company has entered into an agreement with Global Green Solutions Inc. to form a “Vertigro”joint venture for funding the next phase of development of the technology including the completion and testing of a fully operational demonstration pilot plant over the next 9 months.

University of California at Berkeley and the U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen from Algae.

Algae have long been known to produce minuscule amounts of hydrogen. The trouble is, the enzyme that propels the reaction (hydrogenase) stalls in the presence of oxygen, and algae naturally produce oxygen during photosynthesis.

University of California researcher Tasios Melis found he could reprogram photosynthesis and stifle internal oxygen flow by depriving the plant cells of sulfur. Under these conditions the algae pumped out hydrogen in significant quantities. With genetically engineered increases in hydrogenase, the quantity is expected to be more..

University of Texas Methanol production from Cellulose made by Blue Green Algae

Malcolm R Brown leads a laboratory at the university of Texas that are working on cellulose production by algae. So fare they have discovered cellulose biosynthesis in nine species of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae which may be the source of the genetic material used for cellulose biosynthesis in present-day plants.

There are well researched ways of making methanol from cellulose and this combined process could be more efficient..

Conclusions in Relation to the Gaia Engineering Project

Incorporation of On-Site Fuel Production with Cement Manufacture

There are a growing number of researchers at the forefront of this exciting new field and future research will involve determination of the operational and economic feasibility of algal culture systems for organic biomass production. The scope for utilising cement kiln emissions is exciting because the fuel produced could be used on site. The burning of limestone also releases chemically bound CO2 so that excess fuel produced could be converted to bio diesel for use in delivery vehicles.

The following article is about a project initiated by ACC - a world leader in the field of fuel manufacture from CO2 for cement.

Industrial Recycling of CO2 From Cement Kilns Into High Energy Algal Biomass Coal Equivalent Fuel

Ramesh Suri Head - AFR Business ACC Ltd. Mumbai, India

Edited by John Harrison

ACC, formerly Associated Cement Companies and now part of the Holcim group have initiated a project to sequester CO2 generated by cement kilns to produce high energy algal biomass, which will then be reused as fuel in its cement kilns. The plan is that the biomass produced by the right strains will be directly fired in power plants and kilns. One of the main goals of the ACC project is to harmonize the algal production rate with CO2 emission rates.

The project involves the screening of appropriate high yielding algae cultures, the development of a bioreactor on a lab bench scale, scaling up the technology to a pilot plant and then demonstrating the same commercially. This will require a multi disciplinary approach and involve microbiologists, algae experts, bio-technologists, engineers and other professionals and cost around $ 3m over a period of 3 years.

Introduction

Algal fuel production is of interest to ACC because the biomass produced by the right strains can be directly fired in power plants and kilns and one of the main goals of the ACC project is to harmonize the algal production rate with CO2 emissions.

For ACC the advantages of adopting the technology include:

ACC has commenced developing a design for a bioreactor to utilize the CO2 from its cement plants and produce oil bearing algae. The plan is to use the algal biomass produced as alternate fuel for company cement kilns, thereby conserving fossil fuel. The objectives of the project are to:

Through algal biomass fuel technology, it should be possible to generate about 1.5 billion TPA of algal biomass fuel, which can replace the equivalent amount of coal. The company and other implementing agencies will be undertaking trials of different industrial systems to identify the best strains and most appropriate culture methods for incorporation into the cement production process for the continuous harvesting of CO2 and recycling of it into a biomass fuel which will either be reused in the cement plant or marketed to third parties.

The project involves the screening of appropriate high yielding algae cultures, the development of a bioreactor on a lab bench scale, scaling up the technology to a pilot plant and then demonstrating the same commercially. This will require a multi disciplinary approach and involve microbiologists, algae experts, bio-technologists, engineers and other professionals.

Many factors including light, temperature, water and nutrient levels have to be considered for efficient algal cultivation and these vary depending on the particular species or strain. Worldwide research projects have been undertaken to identify suitable growth conditions, nutrient media, specific high yielding strains of algae, and other aspects of cultivation and many of these are described below. For the successful completion of the ACC project we will need to build on the concepts discussed in theses case studies and further investigate and demonstrate the feasibility of large scale algal biomass production from the perspective of the cement industry.

Conclusions

There are many researchers at the forefront of this exciting new field and future research in this area would involve determination of the operational and economic feasibility of algal culture systems for organic biomass production from the viewpoint of cement industry. It is hoped this will then lead to the sequestration of CO2 produced from cement manufacturing and production of biofuel as an alternative source of energy.

ACC's plan to re-engineer the biological trials and convert them into a plant scale bioreactor, which would produce algae at the rate corresponding to CO2 generation from a cement plant. This would make the process cyclical in nature. For this research, ACC are in discussion with The Indian Institute of Agricultural Research (IARI), The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and National Council for Cement and Building Materials India (NCBM).

The project is expected to cost around $ 3m over a period of 3 years. At the present time ACC are seeking to secure finance so that the project can be undertaken.

References

  1. Bayless, D.J., et al., 2002. Enhanced Practical Photosynthetic CO2 Mitigation (http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/proceedings/01/carbon_seq/5a4.pdf)
  2. De Boer, A.J., and van Doorn, J., 1998. Combined production of chemicals and biomass with micro algae in a closed photo bioreactor. ECN Contribution to the 10th European Conference: ‘Biomass for energy and industry’. ECN—RX-98-003, pp. 27-29.
  3. Masojídek, J., Papácek, S., Sergejevová, M., Jirka, V., Cervený, J., Kunc, J., Korecko, J., Verbovikova, O., Kopecký, J., Štys, D. and Torzillo, G., 2003. A closed solar photo bioreactor for cultivation of micro algae under supra-high irradiance: basic design and performance. Journal of Applied Phycology, Vol. 15, pp.239-248.
  4. Novakovic, G.V., Kim, Y., Wu, X., Berzin, I., and Merchuk, J.C., 2005. Air-Lift Bio reactors for Algal Growth on Flue Gas: Mathematical Modeling and Pilot-Plant Studies. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. Vol. 44, pp.6154-6163.
  5. Reith, J.H., van Doorn, J., Mur, L.R., Kalwij, R., Bakema, G. and van der Lee, G., 2000. Sustainable co-production of natural fine chemicals and bio fuels from micro algae. Conference Biomass for Energy and Industry, Sevilla, June 2000.
  6. Sheehan, J., Dunahay, T., Beneman, J. and Roessler, P., 1998. A Look Back at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Aquatic Species Program—Biodiesel from Algae. U.S. Department of Energy’s, Office of Fuels Development.


Web Sites

Ramesh K Suri

Ramesh K. Suri is the Head - AFR Business at ACC Ltd., reporting to the ACC's Managing Director. He is has completed his studies in Chemical Engineering at IIT Delhi and joined ACC Ltd in 1970. Since then Mr. Suri has held positions in the areas of plant operations, industrial engineering, design & construction, commissioning, project management, administration and consultancy services for cement plants within India and abroad. Suri has served on various national and international committees including the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (APP), Regional CDM Initiative APAC, and the Thematic Advisory Group of TERI. He has an extended experience in turnaround projects, and trouble shooting both in administrative and technical bottle necks. An expert on streamlining management systems and improving productivity, he is engineering the development of the Waste Management Engineering in India and bringing up the Alternate Fuels and Raw Materials department for the 35 MTPA cement group of Holcim, India.

Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change

We have taken the liberty of reproducing the shorter executive summary of the very important Stern Review here. If you have not read it - read it now.

Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of the Government Economics Service and Adviser to the UK Government on the economics of climate change and development, presented his report to the UK Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Economics of Climate Change on the 30th October 2006:

Summary of Conclusions

There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now.

The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response.

This Review has assessed a wide range of evidence on the impacts of climate change and on the economic costs, and has used a number of different techniques to assess costs and risks. From all of these perspectives, the evidence gathered by the Review leads to a simple conclusion: the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting.

Climate change will affect the basic elements of life for people around the world – access to water, food production, health, and the environment. Hundreds of millions of people could suffer hunger, water shortages and coastal flooding as the world warms.

Using the results from formal economic models, the Review estimates that if we don’t act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts
is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more.

In contrast, the costs of action – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year.

The investment that takes place in the next 10-20 years will have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next. Our actions now and over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. And it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes.

So prompt and strong action is clearly warranted. Because climate change is a global problem, the response to it must be international. It must be based on a shared vision of long-term goals and agreement on frameworks that will accelerate action over the next decade, and it must build on mutually reinforcing approaches at national, regional and international level. Climate change could have very serious impacts on growth and development. If no action is taken to reduce emissions, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could reach double its pre-industrial level as early as 2035, virtually committing us to a global average temperature rise of over 2°C. In the longer term, there would be more than a 50% chance that the temperature rise would exceed 5°C. This rise would be very dangerous indeed; it is equivalent to the change in average temperatures from the last ice age to today. Such a radical change in the physical geography of the world must lead to major changes in the human geography
– where people live and how they live their lives.

Even at more moderate levels of warming, all the evidence – from detailed studies of regional and sectoral impacts of changing weather patterns through to economic models of the global effects – shows that climate change will have serious impacts on world output, on human life and on the environment.

All countries will be affected. The most vulnerable – the poorest countries and populations – will suffer earliest and most, even though they have contributed least to the causes of climate change. The costs of extreme weather, including floods, droughts and storms, are already rising, including for rich countries.

Adaptation to climate change – that is, taking steps to build resilience and minimise costs – is essential. It is no longer possible to prevent the climate change that will take place over the next two to three decades, but it is still possible to protect our societies and economies from its impacts to some extent – for example, by providing better information, improved planning and more climate-resilient crops and infrastructure. Adaptation will cost tens of billions of dollars a year in developing countries alone, and will put still further pressure on already scarce resources. Adaptation efforts, particularly in developing countries, should be accelerated.

The costs of stabilising the climate are significant but manageable; delay would be dangerous and much more costly.

The risks of the worst impacts of climate change can be substantially reduced if greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere can be stabilised between 450 and 550ppm CO2 equivalent (CO2e). The current level is 430ppm CO2e today, and it is rising at more than 2ppm each year. Stabilisation in this range would require emissions to be at least 25% below current levels by 2050, and perhaps much more.

Ultimately, stabilisation – at whatever level – requires that annual emissions be brought down to more than 80% below current levels.

This is a major challenge, but sustained long-term action can achieve it at costs that are low in comparison to the risks of inaction. Central estimates of the annual costs of achieving stabilisation between 500 and 550ppm CO2e are around 1% of global
GDP, if we start to take strong action now.

Costs could be even lower than that if there are major gains in efficiency, or if the strong co-benefits, for example from reduced air pollution, are measured. Costs will be higher if innovation in low-carbon technologies is slower than expected, or if policy-makers fail to make the most of economic instruments that allow emissions to be reduced whenever, wherever and however it is cheapest to do so.

It would already be very difficult and costly to aim to stabilise at 450ppm CO2e. If we delay, the opportunity to stabilise at 500-550ppm CO2e may slip away.

Action on climate change is required across all countries, and it need not cap the aspirations for growth of rich or poor countries.

The costs of taking action are not evenly distributed across sectors or around the world. Even if the rich world takes on responsibility for absolute cuts in emissions of 60-80% by 2050, developing countries must take significant action too. But developing countries should not be required to bear the full costs of this action alone, and they will not have to. Carbon markets in rich countries are already beginning to deliver flows of finance to support low-carbon development, including through the Clean Development Mechanism. A transformation of these flows is now required to support action on the scale required.

Action on climate change will also create significant business opportunities, as new markets are created in low-carbon energy technologies and other low-carbon goods and services. These markets could grow to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and employment in these sectors will expand accordingly. The world does not need to choose between averting climate change and promoting growth and development. Changes in energy technologies and in the structure of economies have created opportunities to decouple growth from greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, ignoring climate change will eventually damage economic growth.

Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy for the longer term, and it can be done in a way that does not cap the aspirations for growth of rich or poor countries.

A range of options exists to cut emissions; strong, deliberate policy action is required to motivate their take-up.

Emissions can be cut through increased energy efficiency, changes in demand, and through adoption of clean power, heat and transport technologies. The power sector around the world would need to be at least 60% decarbonised by 2050 for atmospheric concentrations to stabilise at or below 550ppm CO2e, and deep emissions cuts will also be required in the transport sector.
Even with very strong expansion of the use of renewable energy and other low carbon energy sources, fossil fuels could still make up over half of global energy supply in 2050. Coal will continue to be important in the energy mix around the world, including in fast-growing economies. Extensive carbon capture and storage will be necessary to allow the continued use of fossil fuels without damage to the atmosphere.

Cuts in non-energy emissions, such as those resulting from deforestation and from agricultural and industrial processes, are also essential.

With strong, deliberate policy choices, it is possible to reduce emissions in both developed and developing economies on the scale necessary for stabilisation in the required range while continuing to grow.

Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen, and it interacts with other market imperfections. Three elements of policy are required for an effective global response. The first is the pricing of carbon, implemented through tax, trading or regulation. The second is policy to support innovation and the deployment of low-carbon technologies. And the third is action to remove barriers to energy efficiency, and to inform, educate and persuade individuals about what they can do to respond to climate change.

Climate change demands an international response, based on a shared understanding of long-term goals and agreement on frameworks for action.

Many countries and regions are taking action already: the EU, California and China are among those with the most ambitious policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol provide a basis for international co-operation, along with a range of partnerships and other approaches. But more ambitious action is now required around the world.

Countries facing diverse circumstances will use different approaches to make their contribution to tackling climate change. But action by individual countries is not enough. Each country, however large, is just a part of the problem. It is essential to create a shared international vision of long-term goals, and to build the international frameworks that will help each country to play its part in meeting these common goals.

Key elements of future international frameworks should include:

Emissions trading: Expanding and linking the growing number of emissions trading schemes around the world is a powerful way to promote cost-effective reductions in emissions and to bring forward action in developing countries: strong targets in rich countries could drive flows amounting to tens of billions of dollars each year to support the transition to low-carbon development paths.

Technology cooperation: Informal co-ordination as well as formal agreements can boost the effectiveness of investments in innovation around the world. Globally, support for energy R&D should at least double, and support for the deployment of new low-carbon technologies should increase up to five-fold. International cooperation on product standards is a powerful way to boost energy efficiency.

Action to reduce deforestation: The loss of natural forests around the world contributes more to global emissions each year than the transport sector. Curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way to reduce emissions; large scale international pilot programmes to explore the best ways to do this could get underway very quickly.

Adaptation: The poorest countries are most vulnerable to climate change. It is essential that climate change be fully integrated into development policy, and that rich countries honour their pledges to increase support through overseas development assistance. International funding should also support improved regional information on climate change impacts, and research into new crop varieties that will be more resilient to drought and flood.