Carbon capture plant set to safeguard aquaculture industry

The Norwegian Parliament has granted funding for an innovative, closed-loop business model which makes use of captured CO2 to produce the Omega-3 necessary to feed local fish farms.

CO2BIO has been given $1bn to build a pilot plant which will use carbon captured at Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM) to produce marine algea using photosynthesis.

“Undertaking advanced marine microalgae production on the doorstep of the world’s largest single market for feed is important for long-term growth of the Norwegian aquaculture industry and for enhanced sustainability of marine raw materials,” said CO”BIO’s managing director Svein M Nordvik.

“It’s inspiring to think that this project could create a virtuous circle; by addressing the growth in global population, as well as putting carbon emissions to good use.”

Seafood is Norway’s second largest export after oil and gas. Last year, the value of Norwegian seafood exports stood at $10.2bn, with 95% of all fishing produce shipped to 150 different countries. Demand for farmed fish is growing but the aquaculture industry is facing a shortage of omega-3 – the fatty acids used in fish feed.

Circular economy

The manufacturing facility will be able to produce Omega-3 and other high-value products from algal biomass; using the captured CO2 and residual heat from the TCM plant. Construction of the 3,200sq.ft algae production test facility is scheduled for completion in early 2015.

TCM’s managing director Frank Ellingsen said: “Carbon is becoming increasingly constrained in the global economy, whilst food demand from farmed fish is rising. It seems to be a smart solution to combine the two issues; using CO2, the by-product of the oil & gas sector, as a raw material for aquaculture.

“This project demonstrates the ongoing importance of TCM: as well as operating at the forefront of CO2 capture technology, we also play a role in the utilisation of CO2 for innovative new circular economy business models.”

The University of Bergen will be the owner of algae pilot, together with Uni Research. Once operational, a five-year research programme will be undertaken with a view to establishing a commercial plant for the production of marine algae.

TCM is continuing its testing of CO2 capture technologies for the oil and gas sector on behalf of its owners which include Shell, Statoil and Sasol.

Luke Nicholls

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