Sustainable carbon capture via halophilic and alkaliphilic cyanobacteria: the role of light and bicarbonate

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Key Laboratory of Low-grade Energy Utilization Technologies and Systems, Chongqing University, Ministry of Education, Chongqing 400044, China.

2 Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, School of Energy and Power Engineering, Chongqing University, Chongqing 400044, China.


The two-step photosynthetic biogas upgrading process, which combines CO2 capture by carbonate solution and carbonate regeneration by using aquatic microbial oxygenic photoautotrophs (i.e., cyanobacteria, algae, and diatoms), may provide a potential alternative to the commercial routes used for gaseous biofuel upgrading. Such a process not only provides a green and low energy intensive biogas upgrading pathway but also converts CO2 in biogas into high value biomass. To improve the upgrading performance, the effects of light intensity and NaHCO3 concentration on the growth and the HCO3- transformation characteristics of halophilic and alkaliphilic Spirulina platensis were investigated in this study. Experimental results showed that the light attenuation of S. platensis culture was significant. Increasing light intensity up to 210 μmol m-2 s-1 effectively improved the S. platensis growth and photosynthetic pigment accumulation. S. platensis could grow in the range of 0.05 to 0.6 M NaHCO3, and a maximum biomass concentration of 1.46 g L-1 was achieved under an optimal growth condition of 0.1 M NaHCO3, which was 65.9% higher than at 0.05 M NaHCO3. Moreover, the bicarbonate utilization efficiency reached 42.0%. Finally, in a case study, a biogas stream at a flow rate of 800 m3 h-1 could generate biomass up to 344 kg h-1, corresponding an energy value of 5591 MJ h-1.

Graphical Abstract

Sustainable carbon capture via halophilic and alkaliphilic cyanobacteria: the role of light and bicarbonate


  • Cyanobacteria may provide a potential solution for biogas upgrading.
  • Significant light attenuation limited carbon capture by Spirulina platensis.
  • Increasing light intensity to 210 μmol m-2 s-1 improved S. platensis growth.
  • Optimal NaHCO3 concentration of 0.1 M was identified for bicarbonate utilization.
  • A biogas rate of 800 m3 h-1 can generate cyanobacteria biomass of 344 kg h-1.