Farming Algae to Clear the Air, Fuel Your Car and Maybe Thicken Your Milkshake

by Carolyn Sotka

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Photo: The Cloud Collective

Most people underestimate the value of algae to our everyday existence on planet earth. Marine algae produce around 75% of the world’s atmospheric oxygen. There are over 7,000 species of algae – from giant kelp to pond scum. Its uses are wide and varied.

An international design group, The Cloud Collective, is working to harness the productivity of algae while tackling the problem of air pollution and greenhouse gasses through sequestration of excess carbon dioxide near highways to ‘feed’ and sustain algal farms.

The team has set up tubes above a small highway and algae are cultivated inside with a series of pumps, filters and solar panels to aid the process. These algae can be used to filter air, dried to produce combustible biomass (fuel) or even as raw material for variety of commercial uses and products from makeup to carrageenan in your milkshakes. Yum.

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A test site for the algal farms above a highway in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: The Cloud Collective.

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Products from algal production. Image by The Cloud Collective.

Algae can also be used as pollution control to treat sewage, capture fertilizers from farm run-off, and ‘scrub’ aquarium tanks or ponds. To learn more about this and other Cloud Collective initiatives visit their Web site.

 

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