B.C. greenhouse uses captured CO2 to grow food

Posted by SunSelect

April 21, 2012

Vancouver Sun – A B.C. greenhouse grower and a Dutch energy company have developed a new carbon-­capture-and-storage technology that relies on the natural need of plants for carbon dioxide to transform carbon contained in biomass into food.

SunSelect Produce Inc. and Procede BV say their carbon-capture-and-storage system is the first commercial operation of its kind in the world to convert the carbon in biomass into fertilizer for food.

The technology is designed to heat greenhouse operations with low-cost biomass, filter emissions, capture the carbon dioxide and feed it to the growing plants as a natural air-borne fertilize, said Victor Krahn, chief executive officer of the joint-venture company, ProSelect Gas Treating. SunSelect Produce unveiled the technology Friday at its 17-hectare Delta greenhouse complex.

“We are taking the carbon and instead of letting it go into the atmosphere, we are converting it to food and eating it,” Krahn said.

“We are eating our way to a carbon-negative future.”

Plants need carbon dioxide, light and heat to grow and the more CO2 they can absorb, the more productive they are, Krahn said.

The technology uses a patented organic liquid to remove the C02 from the exhaust gas stream of the greenhouse biomass burner.

The liquid is then heated, releasing the pure CO2 into the greenhouse for the plants to use.

Krahn said SunSelect’s Delta greenhouse is the first one in the world to have an operating carbon-capture-and-storage system. It removes five tonnes of carbon an hour from the facility’s biomass burner and recycles it for the carbon-­hungry peppers SunSelect grows.

“The system is viable. We feel fantastic about it,” Krahn said.

The innovative carbon-­capture-and-storage system cost $5 million to develop. The joint venture partners received $2.24 million from the British Columbia Innovative Clean Energy Fund and $1.72 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada.

Krahn said SunSelect switched from natural gas to biomass as a source of heat for its greenhouse several years ago when natural gas prices spiked.

A critical element in the success of the program is that by using biomass, which is considered a renewable energy source, to replace natural gas, a fossil fuel, SunSelect is able to sell its carbon credits through Offsetters, a B.C. organization that certifies greenhouse gas emission reductions by businesses, and buys and sells the resulting credits on B.C.’s carbon market.

“That offsets 10 per cent of the capital costs of the equipment,” Krahn said. “And that’s revenue that comes in every year.”

Linda Delli Santi, executive director of the B.C. Greenhouse Growers Association, said the industry is always looking for innovative technologies that can help it compete against growers in jurisdictions that are not faced with high heating costs.

She said carbon dioxide contained in emissions from natural gas is now being recycled into plants by the B.C. greenhouse sector. A cost-effective system of removing carbon dioxide from biomass could lead to a decreased use of natural gas as a heating fuel in greenhouses, she added.

B.C.’s vegetable greenhouse growers employ about 3,800 people and grossed $245 million in 2011. About 90 per cent of the province’s greenhouse acreage is in the Lower Mainland.

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Source: http://www.canada.com/life/greenhouse+uses+captured+grow+food/6495118/story.html