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Venture to make algae fuel from coal plant emissions

Can carbon dioxide be used to make a fuel? Australian companies Linc Energy and Bio Clean Coal to grow algae for biomass or biodiesel.

Two Australian firms have established a joint venture that intends to use emissions from coal power plants to grow algae that can be used as fuel.

Linc Energy and Bio Clean Coal announced the creation of the company last week and said they would spend $1 million over the next year to build a prototype bioreactor.

The bioreactor will be designed to grow algae, using the carbon dioxide produced from processing coal for electricity as "food." That process should dramatically reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, the company said.

The dried algae could be burned for power generation, turned into biodiesel or fertilizer, the company told GreenTech Media.

Cambridge, Mass.-based GreenFuel Technologies has also developed a bioreactor that uses power plant pollution to grow algae. The company had to suspend its pilot project with an Arizona utility earlier this year because it grew more algae than it could harvest.

Several other companies are looking to grow algae to make biodiesel, although none have come up with a commercial scale process.