IIT Jodhpur’s innovative technology uses algae assisted fuel cells to capture carbon dioxide, treat wastewater and generate power.
What are these algae assisted fuel cells?
Algal Fuel Cells (AFC) are bioelectric devices that use photosynthetic organisms to turn light and biochemical energy into electrical energy.
The process uses wastewater, where the chosen algal strain —Chlorella vulgaris— is thermo-tolerant and can grow in wastewater.
Algae assisted microbial fuel cells (MFC) is a bioelectro chemical device that generates electricity by harnessing the metabolic activity of microorganisms.
When microorganisms break down organic matter (which wastewater is rich in) into simpler molecules, electrons are released in the process.
If these electrons are made to flow through an external circuit, we get electric current.
Only a small fraction of algae is used for power generation.
The remaining is available for bioenergy.
First step is to cool the flue gas (the gas produced from the flue or chimneys of thermal power stations and other industrial plants) in a heat exchanger and then direct it to a sieve-plate absorption column.
The sodium carbonate supplemented wastewater absorbs the CO2, generating flue-gas-derived bicarbonates (FGDBs).
The FGDBs are added in plastic bag photobioreacors (PBRs), coupled with algae-assisted microbial fuel cells (MFC).