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Collaboration

Carbon Capture by Microalgae

ITRI & Taiwan Cement Collaborate on Circular Economy

ITRI and Taiwan Cement signed a cooperation agreement on CCS applications development.

ITRI and Taiwan Cement signed a cooperation agreement on CCS applications development.

Despite being invisible to our bare eyes, microalgae can serve to capture CO2 and produce biofuel, as well as yield astaxanthin through refinement, making it a new “goldmine” for biomass resources. On July 5th, ITRI and Taiwan Cement Corporation signed a new-phase R&D project contract to extend the CCS (carbon capture and storage) applications. With funds from Taiwan Cement, ITRI’s patented microalgae biomass and carbon fixation technology will serve as the basis to expand the microalgae cultivation demonstration system and relevant R&D plans. A large (20-hectare) outdoor microalgae farm will be established; it is expected not only to reduce carbon emissions from the cement plant by 4,800 tons per year, but also to produce high-priced astaxanthin, contributing to the development of a circular economy.

According to ITRI President Jonq-Min Liu, ITRI’s platform for biosynthesis and carbon reuse has reached a high carbon fixation efficiency, with 1 kg of microalgae capable of capturing 1.83 kg of CO2. ITRI’s technology also has advantages such as a high microalgae growth rate, high lipid content and the requisite properties to be made into high value chemical-based products, marking a breakthrough for Taiwan’s efforts in carbon reduction and energy development.

ITRI developed innovative regulation technology for microalgae growth.

ITRI developed innovative regulation technology for microalgae growth.

Chairman Leslie Koo of Taiwan Cement stated that its Heping Cement Plant and Power Plant were designed based on the concept of circular economy to turn waste into energy and raw materials. Supported by the government’s research funds in the past five years, Taiwan Cement has participated in ITRI’s development of calcium looping technology for carbon capture, which won a 2014 R&D 100 Award. Meanwhile, the microalgae culturing project has also made great progress in carbon fixation efficiency and astaxanthin extraction technology.

Koo pointed out that astaxanthin powder is a high-value ingredient with great market potential, as it can be processed to make cosmetics, health supplements, and even compound drugs. Additional facilities for microalgae production will be established in the Heping site and are expected to produce a value-added output of NT$400 million every year.

Technical Glossary

ITRI’s Platform for Carbon Reuse and Biosynthesis

Carbon is one of the important fundamental elements composing life and matter on Earth. The carbon cycle refers to the processes of how the carbon element changes in Nature. ITRI uses bioenergy and carbon fixation technology to capture CO2 from industrial emissions. The CO2 is then used to cultivate microalgae or microorganisms, which can then become the source to produce biofuel, high-value products, chemicals, and bait feeds for the purposes of energy, daily use, industry and agriculture, thus completing the carbon cycle.