This New Carbon Capture Project Turns Carbon Dioxide Into Fish Food

A Norwegian project hopes to reduce both pollution and lessen pressure on krill stocks

Salmon in a fish farm in Norway Michel Roggo/Nature Picture Library/Corbis

A project in Norway is set to turn pollution into fish food. The consortium of food companies backing the project hope this latest carbon capture venture could lead to not only less carbon dioxide in the air, but also provide a supply of food for farmed fish that doesn't rely on krill from Antarcticareports the BBC.

The consortium's plan is to grow algae and then to harvest the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Growing algae need food of their own, and the plan is to supply them with carbon dioxide gas captured from a nearby refinery and gas fired power plant.

You may have heard that omega-3 fatty acids are important for human health, but they also supplement the diet of farmed fish. In nature fish get the fatty acids the same way we do, by ingesting smaller creatures that contain the nutrient. On a farm, the fish get less of it, so farmers have to supplement their fishes' diets with the oil. Currently, most omega-3 fatty acids are harvested from other fish or from krill caught in the Antarctic.  

Norway grows a lot of seafood, and this project will need to make a lot of oil if it’s going to become economically viable. This pilot project is just a five-year test. 

"The need is approximately 100,000 tonnes, and that's a large scale. The reason for the test centre is to develop the techniques and optimise the production line so we can have a decision on large scale production," said Svein Nordvik, the project's leader, to the BBC. 

The company running the project, CO2BIO, estimates that with their current method they can take one metric ton of carbon dioxide and turn it into one of algae, which in turn yields somewhere between 660 and 880 pounds of oil. That’s a lot, but it isn’t 100,000 tonnes. At least, not yet. 

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