Net Zero Innovation: Land-Based Algae Culture Utilizing CO2

Publish: 12:45 AM, May 20, 2024 | Update: 12:45 AM, May 20, 2024

“Global Warming” is a term that resonates with people worldwide. A significant driver of this phenomenon is the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Tackling this issue requires reducing CO2 emissions. However, the abrupt termination of CO2 sources is impractical due to numerous financial and social constraints.

So, what can be done? Scientists globally are exploring methods to capture CO2 from the air and emission sources. Many have developed systems to optimize CO2 capture. Yet, a critical question remains: what should be done with the captured CO2?

Our research focuses on net zero innovation through land-based algae culture that utilizes captured CO2 from industrial exhaust. To enhance CO2 capture capacity, various parameters such as temperature, pH, minerals, illumination, and light color are controlled using artificial intelligence. Initially, we used a tank with approximately one tonne of seawater, introducing a small amount of nori (Pyropia tenera, a nutrient-rich popular edible algae in Japan) seed. With artificial light, controlled CO2, and nutrients, the nori grew to 4-5 cm within just three days.

Recognizing the significance of this research, Japan’s prominent newspaper Nishi Nihon Shimbun featured our work on February 13, 2020, and a follow-up of the featured article on May 7, 2024. Television channels have also highlighted this innovation.

Our research group at the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER), Kyushu University, has been conducting demonstration experiments on land-based noricultivation using CO2. In 2022, a dedicated research lab (Next Generation Terrestrial Seaweed Culture Laboratory acronym of Itoshima Laboratory) was established in the mountains of Itoshima City, Fukuoka Prefecture, with generous financial support from Mr. Satoshi Nakamura, President and CEO of Daishin Co. Ltd. This initiative aims to break through yield barriers towards commercialization. Five researchers and employees are dedicated to working in the Itoshima Laboratory. Daishin Co. Ltd. which is located in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, has long experience in high-grade eel farming and processing technology for more than two decades.

Our promising results indicate the optimization of the culture methodology for commercial viability, which will require full automation of the cultivation system employing AI. The photograph accompanying this article showcases the fundamental aspects of various land-based algae cultivation efforts at the Itoshima Laboratory.

Dr. Bidyut Baran Saha
Principal Investigator
International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER)
Mechanical Engineering Department
Kyushu University, Japan