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Finnish researchers see future profits in greenhouse gas recycling

Carbon dioxide now being released at a biogas plant is to be captured and sold onward as an industrial ingredient.

The pilot project is being carried out a biogas facility near Lahti, southern Finland. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle
Yle News

LUT University in Lappeenranta and LAB University of Applied Sciences in Lahti are studying how recycling carbon dioxide (CO2) could be turned into a profitable business while benefiting the environment.

This week researchers have been testing out equipment at the Päijät-Häme Waste Centre, which is located at a Gasum biogas facility in Kujala on the outskirts of Lahti. There, residential bio-waste is converted into biogas composed of methane and CO2. The methane is used for transport fuel, but so far the CO2 is being released into the atmosphere.

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Capturing carbon dioxide at Kujala. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

“We’re capturing the CO2and purifying it. In many cases, this purified CO2 can be used to replace CO2 produced from fossil sources,” explains researcher Sami Luste from LAB University of Applied Sciences.

The aim is to set up a CO2 recycling system involving companies in the Päijät-Häme region, which includes Lahti.

The city, which has been designated as the European Green Capital 2021, lies about 100 km north of Helsinki.

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Capturing carbon dioxide could be lucrative. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen / Yle

“The goal is for the green city of Lahti and the Päijät-Häme area to turn greenhouse gas into a business while lowering carbon emissions,” he tells Yle.

Purifying and recycling CO2is not a completely new concept. It is already in use in the brewing industry, for instance. The CO2 produced while brewing beer can be reused to make soft drinks bubbly.

According to Esa Vakkilainen, Professor of Energy Technology at LUT University, recycled CO2 is already used by many big companies, but now the plan is to a create a product that is also financially viable on a smaller scale.

“What we want to accomplish here is that this local CO2 flows here and that the money stays in this area rather than being spent on buying CO2 from elsewhere,” says Vakkilainen.

The CO2 recovery system used in the pilot programme is based on one developed at the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (XAMK).

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