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Dr. Isaac Berzin of MIT has thought of a way to use algae to clean power-plant exhaust. Rows of algae-filled tubes are bolted onto the exhaust stacks of a 20-megawatt power plant behind MIT's campus.
Dr. Berzin's company GreenFuel has installed 30 bioreactors on the roof of the plant. Each bioreactor consists of polycarbonate tubing in the shape of a triangle; the tubes are clear, to allow sunlight in. Inside each tube, exhaust will mix with the algae. Thanks to photosynthesis, the algae will consume the CO2 and pollutants, grow in volume and give off oxygen and nitrogen.
Once dried, the algae forms a biomass similar to an artist's soft charcoal. This can, in turn, be burned like coal or liquified into oil or used to make plastics, nutraceuticals or food.