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Session spotlight: Using algae to capture carbon and nitrogen oxides

Published on 9 Oct 2013 Posted in Greenbuild

Can algae be utilized as an emission control strategy in the industrial sector? The Greenbuild 2013 session “Using Algae to Capture Carbon and Nitrogen Oxides,” discusses an innovative partnership between Arizona State University and Intel to identify and discuss the key obstacles to using algae for green house gas mitigation and NOx emission control from combustion equipment.

Session speakers Taimur Burki, Global Green Building Program Manager for Intel Corporation; Tim Higgs, Environmental Engineer at Intel Corporation; Joshua Wray, Graduate Research Assistant (Phd) at Arizona State University; and Greenbuild Program Working Group Chair Lois Vitt Sale (who chose this as her favorite session at Greenbuild), Chief Sustainability Officer at Wight & Company, discuss this exciting program.

What interests or excites you most about this session?

Lois Vitt Sale: I'm excited to hear about a new fuel source that can be easily disaggregated and used to produce a source of clean energy. Greenbuild is the perfect platform from which to learn about innovations that will spur the next level of solutions for our built environment.

Why is the topic of this session important?

Tim Higgs: CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions are newly regulated at many industrial sources. Control technologies for these gases are not readily available yet, so it is important to understand which technologies may be viable either currently or in the future.

Joshua Wray: With full development and implementation of this technology, industries could better manage their greenhouse gas emissions making it easier to meet ever-tightening air quality standards while making their operations more sustainable.

Lois Vitt Sale: It is important to consider new solutions to our energy needs that are low carbon and applicable to multiple uses. Also, I think this session will address the impacts created in this industrial project and the role of this clean energy to offset those impacts. The abstract admits that this strategy is not scalable at every level but the lessons they have to share could provide some interesting insights to Greenbuild's creative audience.

What makes you an expert in this area?

Taimur Burki: Developed the experiment to analyze the impact on actual industrial emissions utilizing algae as an abatement methodology. I have 16 years of experience in environmental compliance managing all facets of an industrial sites environmental compliance programs.

Tim Higgs: The experience gained in the pilot project and set of experiments performed at Intel.

Joshua Wray: As a graduate research assistant and Phd candidate at Arizona State University, I have been involved in many bioremediation projects using microalgae to capture nutrients from waste streams and in the case of this project; carbon and nitrogen from flue gases.

How do you interface with this topic or issue in your work or home life? Have you had an experience related to this issue or topic that you would like to share?

Lois Vitt Sale: I was in Hamburg Germany earlier this summer and saw a multi-family flat that had algae panels mounted on the south and west facade. The algae produced in the panels can power 2 1/2 flats in the four flat building.

What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had in the green building/sustainability world?

Taimur Burki: I have managed the certification of multiple wafer fabrication plants and campuses to LEED NC and LEED EBOM while driving the world's largest semiconductor company to a 90% solid waste recycling goal and improving their green building footprint via a multiplicity of efforts.

Tim Higgs: Working with agencies in developing countries such as China to help them learn from our experiences how to implement pollution control and sustainability in their home countries.

What’s the most interesting non-green building related fact about yourself?

Joshua Wray: I have a diesel truck that runs on biodiesel and vegetable oil.

Lois Vitt Sale: I love reading notes on my tea bags….Today’s note: “Work, but don’t forget to live.”

Interested in creating the education program at Greenbuild? There are numerous Committees and Working Groups that you can join. The 2014 Call for Expressions of Interest is open from Oct. 7-Nov. 29. Learn more about the application process beginning Oct. 7

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