Welsh “GreenBox”: Carbon Capture and Algae-to-Biodiesel Scheme
20 July 2007
A Reuters report on a device the Welsh inventors claim can trap mobile source CO2 emissions for subsequent removal and processing in a algae-to-biodiesel operation has generated a great amount of interest.
The three inventors say they devised the notion for the “Greenbox” while experimenting with carbon dioxide to boost algae growth for fish farming.
The Greenbox concept is to place a removable device inline with the vehicle exhaust system, where it captures the CO2. Although the prototype is “about the size of a bar stool”, the three say they can build one small enough to fit under a car with sufficient capacity to hold the emissions from a full tank of gasoline.
When the car refuels, the Greenbox would be replaced. The full Greenbox would then be sent to a centralized algae processing plant, where the CO2 would be removed and used as a feed for algae growth. The algae subsequently would be processed into biodiesel.
The three—organic chemist Derek Palmer and engineers Ian Houston and John Jones—say they have carried out more than 130 tests over two years at several testing centers, resulting in a capture rate between 85 and 95 percent.
Accompanying the Reuters story is a short demonstration video featuring a handkerchief test showing the difference in soot accumulation pre- and post-Greenbox—although nothing specific to carbon capture or release.
According to the Reuters story, the inventors say they have spent nearly £170,000 ($348,500) over two years developing the “three distinct technologies” involved and are hoping to secure more funding for health and safety testing.
With the backing of their local member of parliament they are now seeking extra risk capital either from government or industry: the only emissions they are not sure their box can handle are those from aviation.
...Not surprisingly, the trio won’t show anyone—not even their wives—what’s inside the box.
After every demonstration they hide its individual components in various locations across North Wales and the technology is divided into three parts, with each inventor being custodian of one section.
“Our three minds hold the three keys and we can only unlock it together,” said Houston.
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