Arup and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) have developed a system of using algae to capture carbon that could reduce C02 emissions.

The algae draws on the carbon dioxide emitted by power stations and factories, closing the carbon cycle, using waste to produce environmentally friendly bio-based products such as bioethanol and biogas.

If successful, the new system will allow the biomass from the algae to be recycled and used to produce a wide variety of products. According to two organisations this could also provide an additional source of revenue to offset carbon capping investment.

The idea first originated during through Arup's work on carbon capture and research into food technologies for the Dongtan eco-city project. It has been further developed with process and systems engineers from the CPI.

Dr. Graham Hillier, Low Carbon Energy Director, at CPI said: “The roll-out will be a great challenge for the process development and construction industries. Government and business, working together, must show leadership, ownership and commitment to attract investment and build technological capability.

“We are planning a rapid research and development programme to move the concept from small-scale testing to larger scale demonstration. We are also looking at ways of integrating the processes into existing power supply and waste management systems. “

Peter Head, Director and Global Head of Planning at Arup said: “The use of algae in this way could have a vast impact on the environment. It not only has the potential to reduce the carbon dioxide that power plants emit by 70 to 80% - improving their carbon footprint. The algae could potentially provide an alternative source of fuel in itself, and through its by-products, a new revenue stream to support investment in carbon capture technologies.”