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Title: Geoengineering, marine microalgae, and climate stabilization in the 21st century

Society has set ambitious targets for stabilizing mean global temperature. To attain these targets, it will have to reduce CO 2 emissions to near zero by mid-century and subsequently remove CO 2 from the atmosphere during the latter half of the century. There is a recognized need to develop technologies for CO 2 removal; however, attempts to develop direct air-capture systems have faced both energetic and financial constraints. Recently, BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) has emerged as a leading candidate for removing CO 2 from the atmosphere. But, BECCS can have negative consequences on land, nutrient, and water use as well as biodiversity and food production. Here, we describe an alternative approach based on the large-scale industrial production of marine microalgae. When cultivated with proper attention to power, carbon, and nutrient sources, microalgae can be processed to produce a variety of biopetroleum products, including carbon-neutral biofuels for the transportation sector and long-lived, potentially carbon-negative construction materials for the built environment. In addition to these direct roles in mitigating and potentially reversing the effects of fossil CO 2 emissions, microalgae can also play an important indirect role. Furthermore, as microalgae exhibit much higher primary production rates than terrestrial plants,more » they require much less land area to produce an equivalent amount of bioenergy and/or food. On a global scale, the avoided emissions resulting from displacement of conventional agriculture may exceed the benefits of microalgae biofuels in achieving the climate stabilization goals.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7]
  1. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States). Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo, HI (United States). Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center
  2. Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo, HI (United States). Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center; Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States). Dept. of Biological and Environmental Engineering
  3. Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo, HI (United States). Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center; Cinglas Ltd., Chester (United Kingdom)
  4. Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States). Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, PA (United States). Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  5. Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo, HI (United States). Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center
  6. Univ. of Hawaii, Hilo, HI (United States). Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center; B&D Engineering and Consulting LLC, Lander, WY (United States)
  7. Bentley Univ., Waltham, MA (United States). Center for Integration of Science and Industry
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
EE0007091; EE0003371
Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Earth's Future
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 2328-4277
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Research Org:
Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Microalgae; Geoengineering; Climate
OSTI Identifier:
1347619
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1347620; OSTI ID: 1393451