Algae or enzymes? That is the question. Both are moving forward as an approach to capturing CO2, and both are getting funding. Quebec City-based CO2 Solution announced last week that Codexis Inc. acquired a 17-per-cent stake in the company for $2 million. The two companies have signed a joint development agreement whereby they will collaborate on the use of “enzymatic carbon capture” technology. CO2 Solution has developed a process that relies on the enzyme carbonic anhydrase to extract carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of coal power and industrial plants. This particular enzyme is used by humans and other mammals to extract CO2 from the blood stream that is later exhaled. Codexis brings to the table a way to improve the ability of this enzyme to thrive in harsh industrial environments. The companies are betting that this approach will be less energy-intensive and therefore less expensive than other solutions in development or on the market.
Meanwhile, Toronto-based Pond Biofuels Inc. says one of its CO2-to-algae demonstration projects has been approved as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate program. The company, in partnership with cement manufacturer St. Marys Cement, has established a microalgae facility that uses CO2 from the neighbouring cement plant as a source of nutrients for the organisms. The algae is then expected to be harvested and used as biomass fuel in the plant’s cement kiln. Pond Biofuels will now get funding under the Asia-Pacific Partnership for a feasibility study that will assess the suitability of its technology for the cement industry in China.