The Alberta Tar Sands are evil, but they keep Canada rolling in green by keeping America rolling, so they aren't going away soon. If they could only do something about their greenhouse gas emissions, those vile bird-killing tailing ponds, and the amount of fuel needed to run them.
Welcome CARS, the humorous abbreviation for a Carbon Algae Recycling System, being developed by the Alberta Research Council and nine other research corporations,
which kills all those birds with one stone. (sorry, inappropriate metaphor) It reminds us of the dÃ©nouement of the Cat in the Hat, were he picks everything up and makes everything right.
As the cute video shows, exhaust CO2 is diverted from the exhaust gases and pumped into the tailing ponds, where micro-algae eat it all up, along with the heavy metals and leftover hydrocarbons. Result? algae that are harvested and turned into biofuels. From the press release:
"In essence, the goal of CARS is to fast-track Mother Nature's own process of using plants to soak up greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere," says John McDougall, vice-chairman for I-CAN from the Alberta Research Council. "Algae growth research isn't new, but our goal is. Other algae projects are aimed at creating bio-fuels. The goal of CARS is to provide industry with a sustainable, affordable way to deal with their greenhouse gas emissions."
The base case chosen for the preliminary CARS work is sized to consume up to 30 per cent of the greenhouse gases produced by the average 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant. "That's the base case, and we'll work upwards to larger capacities from there," says McDougall, . He predicts the sale of byproducts like ethanol or fertilizer from harvesting the algae would help offset the cost of operating the CARS algae systems.
CARS micro-algae, Alberta Research Council
MacDougall is excited. "There aren't that many things that have the right buttons on them, but this one seems to have them." Tyler Hamilton at the Star is too, and concludes: "Carbon capture and geological sequestration. Char production and biosequestration. Turning CO2 into baking soda and other usable materials. Growing CO2-sucking algae to make biofuels and clean up toxic pools. Certainly we've got options -- and we're going to need them all." ::Clean Break