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Earth’s atmosphere today is very different from its prehistoric antecedents, when volcanoes formed the first atmosphere by spewing water vapour, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide into the air. Then primitive microalgae life forms evolved photosynthesis, consumed the carbon dioxide, and created the oxygen rich atmosphere that exists today. The by-product of early microalgal photosynthesis being the fossil fuel reserves we consume today.

 

Climate change

There is general agreement that unrestrained combustion of fossil fuels with concomitant carbon emissions, is causing climate change. To mitigate these emissions, there is a global race to develop processes that capture carbon dioxide and convert it into competitively priced fossil fuel replacements.

International governments and Global corporations are investing heavily in microalgae cultivation as the foundation of a competitive solution to produce fossil fuel replacements and mitigate climate change.


Water resources

Freshwater is a limited resource and water quality is under constant pressure from both natural and anthropogenic processes such as sewage treatment and industrial effluent. Preserving freshwater quality is important for drinking water supply, food production and recreational water use. Preserving our marine environment is of equal importance. Sewage discharge is causing serious damage to our coastal biodiversity and in many locations, seafood abundance and quality is on the decline.

Conventional sewage technology is expensive, energy intensive, a significant greenhouse gas emitter (3% Total UK emissions) and generally incapable to removing nutrients and other recalcitrant solutes from sewage discharges. These partially treated discharges more increasingly result in toxic blooms we observe in lakes, rivers and oceans. Nitrogen and phosphorous levels have been increasing in both freshwater and marine environments and are now considered major contaminants.

Water, nutrients and energy issues are inextricably connected, and microalgae can exploit these connections. Analogous to a controlled algal bloom, we can take advantage of the ability of microalgae to remove nutrients and other contaminants from wastewater as they photosynthesise, grow and divide. 

 




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