Industrial Symbiosis: Circular Economy Dances with Ecology

-by Eva Pohl

Is there a way to use pollutants from cement factories and sewage plants as a resource?

At Linnaeus University, we work in collaboration with local industries to catch carbon dioxide and excess nutrients by growing green algae in panels and dams.

But is it economically and environmentally feasible? We are using a Life Cycle Assessment and a Technological Economic Assessment to evaluate with material flows, environmental impacts and the potential economic viability of such systems.

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By growing green algae in this way, we connect industries with ecology research to discover more possibilities than is available for a single sewage treatment plant. In this system, neighbouring plants are able to utilize each others’ waste products as raw materials and decrease pollution. This setup is generally called industrial symbiosis.

In the Life Cycle Assessment, consumption of resources and waste and outlets are inventoried and the environmental impact is estimated in the form of an index. We can also evaluate the Circular Economy of the system.

One potential product of growing algae from waste resources is biofeed for animals. Our research has shown that this method is more sustainable, both economically and ecologically, than conventional animal feed, such as soy beans.

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Stay tuned to read more about Eva’s research Algoland and Life Cycle Assessment! 

Eva Pohl is a PhD student in the Marine Phytoplankton Ecology and Applications and EEMiS.  Her supervisor is Dr. Catherine Legrand and she works within the Algoland project.

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