Can steelworks algae help combat climate change?

algae pilot Pt Talbot
The project is analysing the capacity for natural algae to use Co2 as a nutrient for growth.

A technology partnership project between Tata Steel and Swansea University aims to manage carbon dioxide produced as a by-product of steelmaking operations.

The collaboration known as ACCOMPLISH (Algal Carbon Capture and BiOMass-Linked Supply cHain) is a unique pilot which is part of a wider Swansea University project, EnAlgae.

Based at the Port Talbot steelworks, the project is analysing the capacity for natural algae to use carbon dioxide as a nutrient for growth. The project contributes to Tata Steel’s commitment to reducing unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions from manufacturing operations.

‘Bio-reactors’ similar to the research units at Port Talbot were on display at the recent Hay Festival as part of Tata Sons’ sponsorship of the event. The display’s purpose was to inform and educate festival-goers about the potential of algae as a sustainable resource.

Tata Steel’s technical director, Martin Brunnock commented: “We are committed to further improving the sustainability of our processes. It is projects like this, with leading academic partners, such as Swansea University here in Wales, which are making us leaders in the field of sustainable steelmaking.”

Dr Alla Silkina, from Swansea University added: “This collaboration with EnAlgae is an important example of how working closely with industry can yield practical results for researchers and businesses.

“We have been able to use the Port Talbot by-product streams as an algal growth nutrient. In addition, a biomass is cultured which can be used for energy (biomethane) production or potentially as a fish feed.” The project could have all kinds of positive implications for businesses and sustainability.

The ACCOMPLISH project may grow, joining a series of initiatives which will add to the strong track record of Tata Steel in improving the environmental impact of steelmaking.

The EnAlgae project is led by Swansea University and funded by the European Union under the INTERREG IVB North West Europe programme. EnAlgae unites experts and observers from seven EU member states to determine the potential benefits of algae as a future sustainable energy source.