In August Wired Magazine wrote about MIT's decision to develop clean, affordable sources of energy. I stumbled upon it while reasearching Emission-to-Biomass (E2B) technology, a process pioneered at MIT (more on E2B below...)
Wired outlines a bunch of what MIT is working on through the Energy Research Council:
- Spinach-derived Solar Power
- Various Battery Technologies for Vehicles and Portable Electronics (we're doing that in Michigan, too)
- Building Technology (mostly to reduce A/C use)
- Turbocharging an automobile engine with plasma from a small ethanol tank (Tony, this one is all you... I don't get how this is supposed to work.)
- And E2B
The article mentions a few more. But the last one stands apart from all the rest.
E2B technology turns Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen Oxides emissions from smokestacks into raw biomass which can be converted into ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen, or a bio-solid (which can be burned alongside coal in most power plants). MIT was the first place to demonstrate this technology over 2-years ago. Using algae, which feed on the Carbon Dioxide and other polluting gasses, these 'bioreactors' transform harmful waste into fuel. That said they are not 100% efficient, their performance depends on the availability of sunlight to induce the algae to grow. Still, even on cloudy days this process eats ~50% of the Carbon Dioxide emissions.
The truly amazing thing about E2B technology is that it is not just a pollution remedy. The end-product is a useful and profitable energy commodity. It makes sense for energy companies to deal in energy products such as ethanol and biodiesel. By implementing E2B a power plant can slash its emissions and broaden its portfolio in renewable energy.
If you want to learn more about Emissions-to-Biomass check out these websites: