Indirect Production of Chemicals from CO2 Enhanced Aquatic Biomass Production and Their Conversion

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The use of biomass, mainly aquatic, as a source of chemicals brings together the interests of scientists and industrialists. Programmes are ongoing all over the world aimed at establishing the potential of the use of terrestrial and aquatic biomass as a source of chemicals (biorefinery) and fuels (biodiesel). Aquatic biomass has the advantage of less land requirement: 1 Pg/year of CO2 capture would require 6 million hectares, which is much less than terrestrial biomass. Also, the growth of micro-algae (Benemann and Oswald, 1996; Benemann et al., 2005) or macro-algae (Dibenedetto and Tommasi, 2003; Aresta et al., 2005b) can be associated with water reclamation (fisheries, sewage, some industrial waters), with added environmental and economic benefits. The widespread implementation of such technologies has been prevented so far by the low price of fossil fuels. By combining the actual rise of oil price with the convenience represented by water treatment, one can foresee a pos sible large-scale (>100 Tg per year) exploitation of technologies based on the utilization of biomass in the medium term. Several technologies are available for biomass treatment including extraction with sc-CO2, which is particularly well suited to obtaining liquid fuels and other thermolabile compounds; gasification, for the production of Syngas; pyrolysis, which gives crude products; and anaerobic fermentation for the production of biogas. Several compounds with a significant market (>1 Tg per year) are also produced from macro-algae on an almost zero carbon emission base (Table 7.3).

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