Carbon dioxide is becoming fish food

Nov 07, 2016 | written by:

In Norway CO2 is 'recycled' and helps to produce sustainable food for fish. It’s not often that you hear about the virtues of carbon dioxide, one of the main contributors to global warming, but one refinery on the west coast of Norway will soon start capturing CO2 by feeding it to fish.

How does a greenhouse gas turn into something that fish can eat? Through algae. Scientists at the Technology Centre Mongstad (the world’s largest facility for testing and improving CO2 capture) are trying to use excess CO2 to grow a few key strains of the tiny green organism, which also happens to be a rich source of omega-3, a vital ingredient for feeding farmed fish.

“Carbon capture typically involves trapping CO2 underground after it is released from gas and coal-fired plants - explains Svein M. Nordvik of CO2Bio, the company set up to finance the project - Then the CO2 goes into a tank with seawater and algae mass, and it’s mixed with a bioreactor system. After 10 days, approximately, we have a biomass which we can use for fish food”. The idea has been around for years, but now scientists are trying to put that CO2 to some use, a bit like turning leftover food into compost instead of throwing it in the garbage.

Experts predict the world’s food production will have to rise 70% by 2050 to keep up with a growing population and, according to supporters of the project, one ton of CO2 could produce a ton of algae useful to feed the fish. Capturing carbon and using it for things like fish farming might sound like an ideal way to tackle climate change, and the practice is still in its infancy: the centers are trying to understand the cleanest and cheapest ways to capture carbon dioxide.

Algae, ideed, isn’t the only way CO2 can be used for the better. At the Technology Centre Mongstad in Norway, scientists are also looking at ways of using carbon dioxide to enhance the production of fertilizers and other chemical production. 

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