Norwegian scientists are to carry out an experiment where captured carbon dioxide is turned into food, in form of algae, for farmed fish.
Essentially the study will involve producing Omega-3 fatty acids from algae that will be grown in a stream of carbon dioxide at a test facility. The big issue is that the new technique could, in theory, absorb the gases responsible for global warming and at the same time provide sustainable fish food.
The installation to do this will be built at Technology Centre Mongstad. This is the world's largest test facility for carbon capture and storage technologies. In a warm soup of pure carbon dioxide, sea water and steam, algae are expected to grow rapidly. The algae will then be harvested, dried and processed for the oil it contains.
Discussing the project, Frank Ellingsen, Managing Director, TCM, said in a research note:
“Carbon is becoming increasingly constrained in the global economy, whilst food demand from farmed fish is rising. It seems to be a smart solution to combine the two issues; using carbon dioxide, the by-product of the oil & gas sector, as a raw material for aquaculture. This project demonstrates the ongoing importance of TCM: as well as operating at the forefront of carbon dioxide capture technology, we also play a role in the utilization of carbon dioxide for innovative new 'circular economy' business models. The test production of omega-3 rich raw material for fish feed from algae will start at Mongstad as early as next year, providing a sustainable solution to an environmental problem and a proactive alternative to the passive deposition of carbon dioxide."
Fish need Omega-3 fatty acids, and these can be hard to come by in the farmed fish sector. In natural habitats fish accumulate these essential chemicals by ingesting algae. Farmed fish cannot do this and instead require a food supplement.
There is also a significant economic benefit for Norway. Seafood is Norway's second largest export after oil and gas. The fjords produce around sixty percent of all the farmed Atlantic salmon in the world, and the market is valued at over $10 billion.
Given that Omega-3 is also much in demand as human health supplements, if the technology proves successful it could also feed into the dietary supplements industry.