Algae and Coal: Turning Pollution Into Prosperity
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Algae have long been researched as a potential source of biodiesel and biofuel because of their quick growth rate, simple inputs and ability to grow under environments unsuitable for many other plants. Using a Monte Carlo simulation, this analysis examines the circumstances under which an algae farm might become profitable now and in the future. The use of CO2 from fossil fuels, specifically coal-fired power plants, is potentially valuable for both the utility and the algae farm because algae require large amounts of CO2 for their high growth rates. My results show that the success of algae farms in the United States is currently unprofitable in the short and mid-term (five to ten years). Moreover their long term profitability is heavily dependent on the system design, fuel prices, location, the existence and increase of prices being placed on air pollutants such as CO2 and NOX, as well as successive scientific breakthroughs under reasonable assumptions.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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